> Weekly Torah Portion > Beginner > A Life Lesson

Cutting Your Losses Brings Greatness

Naso (Numbers 4:21-7:89 )

by Adam Lieberman

In this week's Torah portion, God said to Moses to:

"Command the children of Israel that they shall expel from the camp everyone with tzara'as..." (Numbers 5:1)


God instructed all the Jews that if someone has tzara'as - which is defined as leprosy or skin contamination - then he needs to temporarily live away from everyone else.

In order to understand why this was done, it's first important to know exactly what caused someone to be afflicted with tzara'as. This skin aliment appeared on those people who gossiped about someone else. When the Jews lived in Israel during the times we had the Holy Temple, when someone slandered another person, he could be afflicted with this aliment.

Perhaps the reason he needed to be segregated from everyone else comes down to this: Human beings really don't like taking responsibility for their errant actions. Let me explain. No one wants to be thought of as a bad person or one who wrongs others. So in an effort to avoid this, most people simply choose to rationalize their behavior to demonstrate that they were completely justified in what they did. Our reasoning tends to boil down to this: Yes I did it, but it's definitely not what it seems.

Maybe this is why God wants the person not to live amongst other Jews until his tzara'as goes away. It was done to prevent this person from committing additional sins by repeating his gossip in an effort to show why it wasn't really gossip in the first place.

And this is the lesson for all of us. We all have the temptation at times to try to explain away our errant behavior. The next time you do something to someone else that you really shouldn't have done, try to resist the urge to make everyone believe that you really didn't do anything wrong. Instead, take personal responsibility for what you did. This will not only make you feel great, but will also act as a powerful shield against compounding your initial mistake.

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