<i>Tazria-Metzora</I>: Holy Speech in the Holy City

Defilement, in the words of the holy Zohar, result from stern judgment; i.e., one-sided stringency. What is demanded is the complement of chesed - mercy, grace and love.

Aloh Naaleh,

Judaism aliyah-r.jpg
aliyah-r.jpg
Arutz 7
The great teacher of our time, Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, wrote: "The holiness of place is manifested in a series of concentric circles, at the center of which is the holy of holies in Jerusalem.... From the Temple site the circles of holiness extend ever farther into space, becoming fainter as they recede from the holy of holies to the Temple court, from the Temple court to the holy city of Jerusalem, from the holy city of Jerusalem to all of the Holy Land, and then... beyond." (The Thirteen Petaled Rose, pp. 70-73)

Our parashiyot, Tazria and Metzora, deal with the spirit of defilement: "Thus shall you separate the children of Israel from their uncleanness... when they defile...." (Vayikra 15:31) Defilement, in the words of the holy Zohar, result from stern judgment; i.e., one-sided stringency. What is demanded is the complement of chesed - mercy, grace and love.

Esau represents stern justice as the heir of Isaac. The Zohar, on the parasha of Metzora (Sulam, no. 59) states: "Esau will be punished and the Temple will be rebuilt. This Temple is called 'first,' as stated in Yirmiyah 17:12: 'A glorious throne exalted from the first.' When we offer good tidings about Zion and Jerusalem and merge their qualities, then (Yeshaya 30:26) 'the walls of Jerusalem will reach on high to the Throne of the King.... Then the light of the moon [Jerusalem] shall be as the light of the sun [Zion], and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold.'"

The defilement by word as disparagement of the holy city limits the holy from entering our world. As Rabbi Steinsaltz has taught: "The holiness of the Holy Land has nothing to do with who the inhabitants are or what they do; it is a choice from on high, beyond human comprehension."(ibid. p. 72)

Why, then, shall we be guilty of words that disparage the holy city and its inhabitants? To be motze shem ra - a metzora - is thus a calumny against the Holy and prevents that sanctity from infusing all of life.

Those of us who have been privileged to live in the holy city must serve as an example of speaking "good" of Jerusalem and seeking its good. Holiness is not that which is great, good, noble or beautiful. It is the merging of all in the Oneness that will recreate our worlds.

Go out and spread the word of holiness from Jerusalem, for it is here and now. It has a ripple effect and will make the world fit for redemption.
----------------------------
Rabbi Eliyahu Shalem writes from the Old City of Jerusalem.



top