Shabbat Candle Lighting Times for
Friday, April 15th
Light Candles at 19:17
Shabbat, April 16th,
Shabbat Ends 20:39
Torah Portion: Metzora
I’m not a kindergarten or primary school teacher, but I can well imagine that teaching young children the weekly parsha is easier at some times of the year than others.
The 12 weeks we devote to Berishis-Genesis would be easy; after all, which kids doesn’t enjoy learning about Creation, Noach’s flood, the early history of our forefathers and the adventures of Yosef? The following 3 months of the yearly cycle are Shmos-Exodus, when the kids get to enjoy the story of Moshe and the Jews escaping Egypt, the splitting of the Sea, the 10 Commandments and the building and outfitting of the Tabernacle.
So far, so easy.
Yet spare some sympathy for the luckless teachers at this time of year, forced to stand in front of their class week after week and explain the weekly portions devoted to animal sacrifices, Levites and leprosy. It must be so hard to demonstrate the relevance and moral teachings of these seemingly archaic laws to the lives of their pupils.
Take for example the laws of the Metzora of which we continue reading tomorrow. Last week we were informed, in excruciating detail, of the symptoms of various coloured blotches that could appear on one’s flesh or hair, presaging the existence of the ritual impurity known as tzaraas. This week we continue the theme by describing the purification process and the laws of tzaraas found on clothing or the walls of houses
Hardly riveting stuff, it must be admitted.
So rather than wade through the minutiae of details, the teachers tend to paint in broad strokes.
They spend much of their time describing the evils of gossip and slander, which are assumed to be the root cause of the punishment and then spend a bit of class time describing the birds and plants that were used in the purification ritual. But the topic which gets by far the most attention is the possibility of discovering buried treasure inside the diseased walls.
According to Rashi findingTzaraas could be [good] news, because the Amorites had hidden away treasures of gold inside the walls of their houses, and when removing tzaraas, he will demolish the house and find the treasure (Rashi Metzora 14:34).
Kids (and adults too) just love that concept.
Imagine the scene; you’re a sinner. You’re impure. You find ugly blotches all over your house, whose very presence proclaims to passers-by the existence of evil within your household. Your house is being demolished in the most publicly humiliating fashion when, in an instant, your fortune is transformed for the better. The walls of your house were concealing hidden treasures and now they are yours.
However, I would argue that more than just sharing the excitement of uncovering buried treasure, there is a tremendous life lesson to be learned from this passage and there is good reason why teachers choose to concentrate on this concept.
How often do we whinge and moan about the negatives that present on our journey through life. I have sinned and now I’m being punished. I’m trapped in the quicksand of despair and decay and the very walls of my existence are crumbling all around me. And then – in the midst of the blackness and suffering – at the time of your greatest humiliation, G-d’s salvation comes shining through.
Hashem looks after you in spite of your misbehaviour. Had you never sinned and then been punished with tzaraas, you would never have learned of the hidden treasures that lie within.
At all times and in all places; in sickness and health, in the midst of suffering or salvation, our benevolent Creator wants nothing for us other than the best. The exile will give way to exhilaration and, very soon we will discover the valuable blessings that Hashem has prepared for His people.
Rabbi Yanky Klein
This email is In Loving memory of my dear father
R’ Yerachmiel Binyamin Halevi ben R, Menachem Klein OBM