Thursday, March 27, 2014

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Tazria

The following is a brief summary of some of the thoughts said over by R' Frand on the parsha this evening. I have attempted to reproduce these vorts to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

The parsha contains many laws related to the person who has tzara'as (loosely translated as leprosy). One of these laws is that once the tzara'as has been confirmed, the person must go outside of the camps where the Jews were living. R' Frand quoted the sefer Emes L'Yaakov who explains that the person does not leave the camp because the tzara'as is contagious. Instead, he is left out because in Heaven Hashem wants him separated from the rest of the Jews. R' Frand opined in his own name that the person is excluded because by speaking loshon hara, he has damaged the framework of his environment.

R' Frand illustrated this point by quoted R' Karlinsky (sp?) who asked - which was the worst plague in Egypt? He explained that the question was not based on the number of dead, but on the worst impact. R' Frand answered that the worst plague was darkness, because for three days, the Egyptians could not move.

R' Frand quoted the old expression "misery loves company" to prove his point. When things go bad in a neighborhood, people will come together to commiserate, even if there is a level of one upsmanship. Still, the people are all experiencing the problem together and can share in each other's pain. 

However in Egypt during the plague of darkness, each person was in solitary confinement. Each person was stuck with no one to complain or commiserate with. This is the punishment of tzara'as and how it influences one not to speak evil of others again.

R' Frand also said a vort which tied into a famous gemara which he had discussed before, but he put a different twist on the story.

There is a gemara which tells a story about a peddler, which in gemara loshon is a "rochel". When the rochel came to the middle of the city he got up and announced - who wants the elixir of life? The townsfolk approached and the peddler said "who wants life - keep your mouth from speaking evil" - making obvious reference to the pasuk in Tehillim. The gemara relates that Rav Yanai was touched by the episode and that he learned something new about the well known line from Tehillim. But what was new?

R' Frand answered by quoting R' Nissim Alpert who said that the new thought was how to read the pasuk. The actual pasuk states - "who is a man who wants life, one who loves days to see good, keep your tongue from saying evil..." When this pasuk is read, a person generally puts the question mark after good and before keep your tongue from saying evil. However, R' Alpert explained that the question ends after "who wants life" and before "one who loves days to see good." If a person wants life, he should look at others in a positive light and not think negatively about them. 

R' Frand explained that loshon hara does not begin with the mouth, it begins with the eye. If a person sees another doing something questionable, or even leaning towards bad, but the observer judges the person to the positive, he will not speak loshon hara about him. But if the observer thinks that the person is doing something negative, he will speak loshon hara about the other person. 

The person who wants to live a long life will use his eye to see the good in others and not speak evil or complain about them.

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