Life Lessons with Judy Simon
Before making Aliyah to Israel, Tzvi Fishman was a Hollywood screenwriter. He has co-authored 4 books with Rabbi David Samson, based on the teachings of Rabbi Kook, Eretz Yisrael, Art of T'shuva, War and Peace, and Torat Eretz Yisrael.
Here is a short dvar Torah from Rabbi Samson in the honor of Shabbat:
IN THIS WEEK’S Torah portion, we meet a unique form of Mega-Tumah (impurity) known as Tzaraat (Vayikra, 13:20). Compared to other forms of impurity, this form of defilement is the severest.
The first Mishnas in Seder Taharot delineate Ten Levels of Tumah (Kelim, 1:1-5). According to this list, a person who is a metzorah is at the highest level of defilement that a person can contract, exceeded only by the tumah of a decaying cadaver.
The Mishna then goes on to delineate 10 levels of Kedusha (holiest) in Israel. The holiest is the Holy of Holies upon the Temple Mount, where only The High Priest can enter once a year on the holiest day of Yom Kippur. The Mishna then categorizes the various types of defiled people and lists those who are forbidden to enter the Temple, the Temple Mount, Jerusalem, and finally any walled city in Israel. As would be expected, the person with the greatest level of defilement – the metzorah is exiled to the most remote part of Israel and prohibited from living within the confines of any walled city in the country.
The Talmud (Erchin16a) teaches us that tzaraat is caused by evil speech, called lashon harah. One who speaks lashon harah about a fellow Jew is ostracized from the community, but may still dwell within the confines of Israel. There is, however, one person whose defilement is so great that he is banished totally from the land – a person who speaks lashon harah about Eretz Yisrael. The Torah prescribed a punishment for the Spies and their followers of being banished not only from the community, but from all of Israel: "All who detest me shall not see her (Israel)". (Bamidbar, 14:23). "In this wilderness will your cadavers decay" (Bamidbar, 14:29). From this we can see the extreme severity of speaking negatively about Eretz Yisrael. It is the epitome of defilement.
May we merit to cherish the Land in our hearts, deeds, and speech. As the Kuzari concludes, "For Yerushalayim will verily be reconstructed only once the Jews yearn for it with all of their hearts."