Tazria-Metzora (Leviticus 12-15 )
GOOD MORNING! Mazal tov to Ellen Tilles on winning the Digital Player in the donor's raffle!
I have a fascinating story for you this week from Rabbi Paysach Krohn's Around the Maggid's Table. Before movies, before television, before radio, before vaudeville, we the Jewish people had real entertainment -- with Maggids! A Maggid would often travel from town to town to tell stories that had meaning, were inspiring, moved people to introspect, improve themselves and forge a closer relationship with the Almighty and a recognition that He runs the world. And what better entertainment can there be than getting insight into oneself and improving one's own level of belief, behavior and aspirations?
In our own generation, Rabbi Krohn is a Maggid in his own right. He is a highly sought-after speaker who captivates and motivates his audiences. Rabbi Krohn has also authored a series of Maggid books (available from your local Jewish book store or by calling toll-free 877-758-3242) which compile wondrous and beautiful stories. I have abbreviated the story for the sake of space; names have been changed.
In Ashdod lives the Feingold family. The father needed to raise funds to pay for his daughter's wedding and their share of an apartment for the new couple. In Israel there are no blocks of rental apartments; the custom is for the bride and groom's family to provide a modest place for the couple to begin their new life. He traveled around Ashdod, Israel and even to the United States. Friends and neighbors also helped to raise funds.
When the guests arrived at the wedding hall, they were surprised. The wedding was in the largest ballroom. When they entered the ballroom they were shocked - the floral arrangements were stunning, the tableware was elegant and a seven piece band was playing. The meal was a seven-course dinner with huge portions. Photographers were everywhere. People were highly offended! The Feingolds had always portrayed themselves as poor people, and now they were spending not only beyond their means, but enough to pay for three weddings!
The matter was so distasteful that it was all people talked about at the wedding. Of course, no one had the audacity to say anything directly to the Feingolds, but the bride's parents couldn't help but sense a touch of resentment and disfavor in the air. After the wedding the situation worsened as with each passing day eyes were raised and noses were turned up as the comments of jealousy and distrust became more obvious.
Not being able to take the resentment any longer, Mr. Feingold went to speak with the community Rav, Rabbi Elya Weiss, to explain the situation. "When I first came with my wife and daughter to the hall to discuss prices and fix a date, we spoke with the owner's wife. We got into a discussion and suddenly she looked up at me and asked, 'Do you by any chance have any Feingold relatives that lived in Germany?' I was taken aback by the question, because I didn't think anyone knew us from the small town we were from. 'Yes," I told her, 'we do come from Germany.'
"She asked if we knew a Leo Feingold and when I told her he was my father her face paled. Tears welled up in her eyes as she exclaimed, 'I am alive today only because of your father! He hid my family and me and saved us from the Nazis. My whole family owes their lives to your father!' She had always wanted to meet her saviors, but never found them.
"She insisted on making us a beautiful wedding to express her gratitude. We tried to talk her out of it. When we came to the wedding hall that night, we were as shocked as everyone else. I couldn't say anything to anyone because our benefactor has asked that her present remain a secret. When I realized the worsening attitudes of many of our friends, I requested her permission to reveal the truth and now I ask you to let people know the truth."
The next Shabbat after the Torah reading, the rabbi told the whole story to the congregation. People again were surprised - but this time at themselves for speaking disparagingly without all of the facts.
This week is Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day
(Tuesday, April 9th). It is also the week that we read the Torah portions dealing with slander and gossip. As I
mentioned last week, one of the best ways we can help Israel - and help ourselves - is to love our fellow Jews.
One of the best ways to engender love is to judge people favorably and to not gossip. One can get more
information from http://www.aish.com/stoplh/default.asp or http://www.chofetzchaimusa.org
TOP TEN TIPS FOR HEALING WITH WORDS
- Bite your tongue before you gossip; your tongue will hurt, but your friends won't.
- Stop yourself from gossiping by changing the subject mid-sentence; only you will notice.
- Never say derogatory things about yourself; people might agree with you.
- Never use humor to put others down; joking around usually comes around.
- Speak sweetly, so if you have to eat your words, they won't taste so bad.
- The gossip game always takes turns; the only way to avoid being "it" is to stop playing.
- Trust makes a friendship; gossip takes it away.
- You are the proud owner of a set of ears; use them at your own discretion.
- To get friends who won't gossip about you, you must be a friend who won't gossip about them.
- Stamp out gossip by voting with your feet; just walk away if someone gossips.
Torah Portion of the Week
The Torah continues with the laws of physical and spiritual purity. These portions focus upon tzora'as, a physical affliction for transgressing the laws of speech - and the purification process. Tzora'as progressively afflicts home, clothes and skin unless one cleans up his speech.
There are two types of speech transgressions:
- Loshon Hora (literally "evil tongue") - making a
derogatory or damaging statement about someone even though you are speaking the truth.
- Rechilut (literally "tale bearing") - telling someone the negative things another person said about him or did
(Undoing damage due to speech is likened to trying to gather together all the feathers from a down pillow -- after they are cast to the wind.)
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states, "And (the one afflicted with tzora'as) shall call out: 'Unclean, Unclean'" (Leviticus 13:45). The afflicted person, as he moves about, calls this out about himself as a warning to others.
The Sheloh HaKodesh, a revered commentary, writes that one can also read the verse in another manner. It could be that the afflicted person is calling out ABOUT other people, "Unclean! Unclean!" That is a person who finds fault with others is really projecting his own faults and imperfections onto others. As the Sages say in the Talmud (tractate of Kiddushin, page 70a), "Those who try to invalidate others do so with their own blemishes."
One means of finding out your own faults is to see what faults you tend to notice in others. When one points a finger at someone, three fingers point back at himself!
CANDLE LIGHTING - April 12:
(or go to http://aish.com/candlelighting)
Guatemala 5:58 Hong Kong 6:24 Honolulu 6:32
J'Burg 5:36 London 7:33 Los Angeles 7:04
Melbourne 5:40 Miami 7:25 Moscow 7:10
New York 7:14 Singapore 6:52
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
Attitudes are contagious.
Are yours worth catching?
With Appreciation for