Two Divine gifts

Insights on Parashat Metzora.

Danny Ginsbourg, | updated: 10:00

Judaism Danny Ginsbourg
Danny Ginsbourg

We read in our parsha of two seemingly very different ‘gifts’ from Hashem:(13:34)’When you arrive in the land of Canaan that אני נותן: I give you as a possession, and נתתי: I will place a tzaraat affliction upon a house in the land of your possession’.

We can readily understand the description of the זכות to enter the Land as a ‘gift’, but why is the affliction also described as a ‘gift’?

The Malbim explains:The Torah, when relating things that arise from the decree of Hashem, refers to them as ‘gifts’ only when they are good in themselves, or, if not good ‘in themselves’, are for a תכלית טוב: a good purpose.

Guided by his insight, we can now understand why the Torah uses the word ‘gift’ to describe this affliction.
Our sages teach that the house is afflicted if its owner behaves ‘inappropriately’, be it by speaking לשון רע, or by being צר עין: miserly, or selfish.

The Natziv finds an allusion to לשון הרע from the pasuk stating that it is ‘the land of Canaan’. As the Canaanites were traders, he comments, they engaged in לשון הרע, to denigrate other traders, thereby gaining custom,

The Shla’h Hakadosh derives a different allusion from this, commenting that כנען alludes to הכנעה: submissiveness, to Hashem, acknowledging that all, and especially this Land, are His.

The two undesirable traits- לשון הרע and of צרות עין- are the antithesis of הכנעה, as both are expressions of אנוכיות: of self, of ‘I’!

The Ba’al Shem Tov beautifully expounds, on the pasuk (VaEtchanan 5:5):

’אנוכי stands between you and Hashem’: man’s אנוכיות: ego, separates him from Hashem.

And, as the uniqueness of the Holy Land is to enable man to be ‘close’ to Hashem, these traits have to be eliminated!

Therefore, our loving Benefactor, Hashem, sends the affliction on his house, as a ‘warning’ to the offender, that he has strayed from the right path, and as a call to mend his ways, to be worthy of the wondrous gift of the Land.

The affliction is, therefore, in the words of the Malbim, ‘for a good purpose’; truly no less ‘a gift’ from Hashem, than the gift of the Land.

And, whilst we no longer have this ‘gift’, the Eternal Torah is surely teaching us what is expected of us  , to be worthy of the great זכות to live in Israel!