by the Reisha Rav, HaGoan Rav Aaron Levine TZ"L
Elucidated and Adapted by Efraim Levine
in Honor of
Rabbi and Mrs. Reuven Garfinkle
On The Birth of a Baby Boy
To Dedicate Please Contact Hadrash Ve-Haiyun
If a person will have in his flesh a s'eis or sapachas or a baheres and it will become a tzaraas affliction on the skin of his flesh; he shall be brought to Aaron the Kohen or to one of his sons the Kohanim (Vayikra 13:2)
The laws of the tzaraas are complex. Let us now focus on just the category of afflictions of the flesh. The Rambam (Tumas Tzaraas 1:5,9) explains that we may summarize the pesukim that deal with afflictions of the flesh with four cases of symptoms. The first is where the appearance of the affliction is deeper then the rest of the skin. The second is where a white hair appears within the affliction. The third is where healthy flesh appears within the affliction area and the final case deals with the instance where the affliction spreads to the rest of the flesh. Let us ask: What does the affliction of the flesh in general symbolize and to what specific points do the four types of symptoms represent?
Let us suggest that the tzaraas of the flesh represents sins that were done for physical pleasure. Flesh in many places in the Gemarah is symbolic of physical pleasure. Thus the affliction in the flesh is a message that the person has sinned for his own physical pleasure. However, the Torah does recognize that not every time a person sins in pursuit of pleasure is he declared a sinner. If a person has sinned all he need do is repent and follow the laws of repentance for that particular sin. However sometimes a person needs a rude awakening and the standard requirement of teshuvah does not suffice. This rude awakening is through tzaraas. The specific symptoms represent severe forms of a sin for physical enjoyment where the individual is required to go through a lengthy process of purity from tzaraas. Let us now explain what the four types of symptoms
The first type is where the affliction is deeper than the skin. This is symbolic of where the sin is deeply rooted within his soul. The individual as a result of his desire for physical pleasure had been transformed into a different type of a person. It is here where the individual needs a rude awakening through tzaraas. If however the affliction is not deeper than the skin then the person is still tahar because the sin has not taken root within his soul.
The white hair relates to the instance where the sinner is in a state of denial. White is the color of purity. Illustrating this is the posuk that states that Hashem will cleanse us like snow and white wool. Being in a state of denial is a serious transgression, even if the sin is not deeply rooted. Accordingly, the white hair makes the person tameh even if the affliction is not deeper than the surrounding flesh. While white represents purity, black represents sin. Accordingly, the case of the black hair in the center of the affliction speaks symbolically of the instance where the sinner acknowledges his foible and is therefore tahor because he recognizes his sin and is therefore on the path to repentance.
The center of flesh within the affliction is symbolic of the person who has sinned and is happy and comfortable with his sin. Because he looks upon his behavior as healthy he will do the sin again. His affliction is therefore declared tamei.
Finally the spreading of the affliction is symbolic of the instance where the sin has gone out of control. This person is either addicted to a particular sin or has adopted a lifestyle that is so corrupt that one sin leads to another. Because his path toward sin cannot be broken, his affliction must be declared tamei.