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Tazria 5768

Tazria-Metzora (Leviticus 12-15 )

by Kalman Packouz

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GOOD MORNING! What is love? Is it just a feeling? Does it come from something? How can you tell the difference between love and infatuation?

In a society with a divorce rate approximately 50%, we know that love seems to be a fragile thing. To experience a broken marriage in order to learn the difference between being in love and being infatuated is painful and wasteful.

Maimonides, one of the greatest Jewish philosophers, wrote in his book, Mishne Torah, "You can't love God except to the extent that you know Him." Maimonides is telling us that love is a result of knowledge. The pleasure of love of God comes from focusing on what you know about God, Who is the source of all good. With people, love comes from focusing on what virtues they have, what about them makes them like God.

When we look at those people we love, it's clear that love comes from seeing good qualities. We can't say, "I love him because he's selfish." We can only say, "I love him because, even though he is selfish, he has such zest in living." Even the mother of an evil man wouldn't say, "I love my son because he's such a vicious gangster"; she would say, "I love him because he's so brave." The virtue is made primary; the defect is ignored as unimportant or even misrepresented as a virtue.

In contrast, hate comes from focusing on the bad we see in someone else. We can't say, "I hate him because he's friendly." We can say, "I hate him because even though he acts friendly, he's doing it for self-serving motives." The bad quality is made primary; the virtue is considered not important or non-existent.

Why is a definition of love important to know? If love is one of our greatest pleasures, one we are seeking all the time, we need a definition to maximize genuine pleasure. Many think that love is an indefinable feeling that comes and goes. Many think that we can't learn to love someone we don't feel love for because we don't know that you can teach yourself to love.

We "fall out of love" with someone we were in love with because we don't know the reasons we fell in love in the first place (this is why many marriages fail; not because "love" disappeared, but because one or both partners turned their attention away from the good in the other person toward the flaws).

Finally, we sometimes think we are in love with someone, only to find out we were infatuated. (This also is why many marriages fail.) If we know love comes from awareness of virtues, we have an objective standard to check out our feelings - are they based on virtues which the other person really possesses, or are they based on a desire for physical or emotional comfort which causes us to invent, or exaggerate virtues in the person, only to discover the lack of them when the desire is satisfied?

The principle of loving others by looking for their virtues can be learned from the Torah. In the Book of Genesis is written, "The man knew his wife, Eve..." (Gen. 4:1) The word used for the physical conjugal relationship between husband and wife is "knew." The greatest love relationship between human beings is in marriage and is founded on two people's complete knowledge of each other. If you wish to genuinely love another human being, you must focus on the good qualities in that person.

(from "Choose Life" by Rabbi Chaim Willis, founder and director of Aish HaTorah South Africa)

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Torah Portion of the Week

The Torah continues with the laws of physical and spiritual purity. The focus of this portion is upon tzora'as, a supernatural physical affliction sent to warn someone to refrain from speaking badly about others. The disease progressively afflicted home, clothes and then one's skin - unless the individual corrected his ways and followed the purification process stated in the Torah.

There are two types of speech transgressions: (1) Loshon HoraRechilus (literally "tale bearing") - telling someone the negative things another person said about him or did against him. Email to subscribe to daily lessons in Shmirat HaLoshon, proper speech - call 866-593-8399 or visit their website at for more infomation - or buy a copy of Rabbi Zelig Pliskin's book Guard Your Tongue, available at your local Jewish bookstore, at or by calling toll-free to 877-758-3242.

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Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states:

"When a man shall have in the skin of his flesh a swelling, a scab, or bright spot, and it be in the skin of his flesh the plague of tzora'as, then he shall be brought to Aharon the priest, or to one of his sons the priest." (Leviticus 13:2

Why was the person brought to Aharon, the priest?

The Rabbi of Alexander commented on this verse: The Sages state that tzora'as is an affliction that comes because a person spoke loshon hora, defamatory speech, against others. When people say negative things about others, they frequently rationalize that it is proper for them to say what they are saying. One common excuse is that they are telling the truth. The other person has done so much wrong that it is important to publicize what a bad person he is. They claim that they would never do this without having elevated intentions and that they are actually performing a mitzvah.

Although their claims might sound good at first, they cause much hatred, quarrels and pain. Therefore, the person with tzora'as was sent to Aharon, the priest. One of the traits of Aharon was that he did everything he could to make peace between people. He then exaggerated and told untruths in order to bring about peaceful relationships between people. Whenever people quarreled, he would tell both sides that the other side was saying kind and positive things about them.

When someone was told that the other person was speaking positively about him, he automatically felt positive about the other person and this greatly improved their relationship. This was the lesson that Aharon would give to the person who spoke against others: Don't justify your harming and wronging others by claiming that you want to publicize the truth. Do all that is in your power to help people feel love for one another.

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What you don't see with your eyes,
don't invent with your mouth.
-- Yiddish proverb

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