Tazri'a - Shabat Hachodesh

April 2nd, 2022

1st of Nisan 5782


Speaking Lashon Hara Blemishes the Holy Shechina

Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

"All the days that the affliction is upon him he shall remain contaminated; he is contaminated. He shall dwell in isolation; his dwelling should be outside the camp" (Vayikra 13:46).

Chazal say the metzora (person with tzara'at) was sent outside of three camps. The Gemara (Berachot 5b) tells us if anyone has one of these four appearances of tzara'at afflictions, they atone for him as a Mizbeach atones. Rashi explains, since he suffers the embarrassment of being sent outside the camp, it serves as his atonement.

One of my sons n"y asked: why did Hashem command Moshe Rabbeinu that a metzora must be sent outside of the three camps? We find that even one who is liable to receive lashes is exempt from further punishment since he suffers embarrassment. So why is a metzora different and not exempt from punishment, due to the fact that he already suffers embarrassment from his tzara'at afflictions?

Chazal say (Vayikra Rabba 16:6), "'This shall be the law of the metzora:' (Vayikra 14:2), a metzora refers to someone who is motzi shem ra, to teach you that anyone who speaks lashon hara transgresses the Five Books of Torah. Therefore Moshe warned Yisrael, 'This shall be the law (תורה) of the metzora.'"

Hashem commanded Moshe on the day of the dedication of the Mizbeach that those who slander others must suffer shame. Why? When man speaks lashon hara, it is as if Hashem is "embarrassed" in front of His heavenly angels, for Chazal say: "When Hashem wanted to create man, He created one group of angels and asked them, 'Do you wish to make man in Our image?' They answered, 'Master of the World, what are his deeds? He told them, 'Such and such are their deeds.' They said, 'Master of the World, "What is frail man that You should remember him, and the son of mortal man that You should be mindful of him" (Tehillim 8:5).' He stretched out His little finger between them and burned them, and so with a second group. The third group said: 'Master of the World, the answer of the first group made no difference to You. The entire world is Yours; anything You wish to do in Your world, do as You see fit'" (Sanhedrin 38b).

When man sins the angels say, "Master of the World, You wanted to create man and we did not want. Now that You created him and he sinned before You, spoiling Your world, what benefit do You have from him in Your world?" The Gemara also tells us (ibid) that when the Generation of the Flood and Generation of Dispersion sinned, the angels said to Hashem: "Master of the World, were the first group not correct?"

Since when man sins he causes Hashem to be "embarrassed" as if, when someone speaks lashon hara, he is showing a lack of compassion for the honor of his Creator. In addition, every person is created in Hashem's image, as it says, "So Hashem created man in His image, in the image of Hashem He created him" (Bereishit 1:27). Therefore when a person speaks lashon hara about someone, it is as if he is speaking about Hashem Himself. Furthermore, the severity of lashon hara is that his words kill three. Since he embarrassed three images of Hashem, he is sent outside three camps, measure for measure. Just as he embarrassed Hashem three times, so he too is shamed and sent outside three camps.

Dear brothers! Desist from speaking lashon hara, even if your words are true, because this is also considered lashon hara and accustoms a person to lie. Speaking lashon hara means you want others to hate the person you are talking about, and this is the opposite of unity. One who fears Hashem will take great care not to speak lashon hara against any of the Gedolei Yisrael.

All the troubles in the world are first and foremost a result of baseless hatred. Therefore, let us strengthen ourselves, let go of all the envy and hatred between us, and stop speaking lashon hara about others. We will then merit Mashiach's arrival, may it be speedily in our days!

Words of the Sages

The Power of Remaining Silent

In this week's Parshah we see to what extent the tongue can corrupt and how life and death are in the power of the tongue. Using one's tongue to cause division among those who should be close, and increasing strife and argument between man and his friend, results in the terrible punishment of tzara'at afflictions on the body, clothing, and even on one's house.

On the other hand, Chazal hold in great esteem one who keeps his mouths sealed during an argument. When gossipers slander, he sits silently and prefers to be among those who are offended but do not offend, hear their disgrace but do not respond, and about them the Torah says, "Let those who love Him be like the powerfully rising sun."

Hagaon Rabbi Yitzchak Zilberstein, in his sefer Borchi Nafshi, relates a wonderful story in which he was involved:

"I was sitting in a beit midrash in Yerushalayim, when suddenly someone approached with the following story:

"'For many years I was childless, and my wife and I suffered great anguish. We went from doctor to doctor, trying to fill the aspiration of every human being.

"'One day I was looking through the sefer Aleinu Leshabe'ach, and I came upon advice Hagaon Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky had given someone in my situation: He should look for someone who meets the description 'insulted but does not insult,' and ask him for a blessing. With Hashem's help he will see salvation. Indeed he did as he was advised and was blessed with a child in a miraculous fashion.

"'I thought to myself that if Hashem brought this story to my attention, perhaps this segulah is where my salvation lies too.

"'I decided that instead of continuing to seek medical assistance, I would look for someone who was insulted and overcame the urge to respond, and ask him for a blessing...

"'Then doubts began to gnaw at me; where will I find such a person? I cannot put an ad in the newspapers, nor would it be appropriate to hang a notice in the beit knesset...

"'I decided to do what I could and keep my eyes open… And the unbelievable occurred right in front of me! I entered a certain beit midrash and came across a scene that matched just what I was looking for!

"'I saw several people surrounding someone, throwing insults at him, but he did not respond! No less and no more! This lasted for several minutes, and as soon as the offenders left I approached him with great emotion and told him my story, asking him to bless me. He happily gave me a blessing and nine months later I had a son!'"

There is no need to elaborate on the lesson we can derive from this incident. We clearly see the great virtue of one who is insulted but does not offend in kind.

Even if no one approaches him for a blessing, his prayer at that moment is unlike that of any ordinary person and has enormous power to affect great salvation for himself and all those around him.

It is therefore worthwhile for him, at the moment of overcoming his inclination, to ask Hashem to remove all the barriers that interfere with his avodat Hashem, and beseech for all other areas that trouble him.

In addition, being aware of the special power of the moment is an incentive to help us prevail and remain silent in the face of insults. Understanding what a great gift this opportunity affords him will endow him with the strength to stand strong.

Walking in Their Ways

Checking into Our Actions

A very sick man once asked me to accompany him to the clinic where he was scheduled to be tested. He would undergo hundreds of x-rays on his head, scanning it from every possible angle to get a detailed picture of every part of his brain.

I escorted him and stood beside him during this difficult ordeal, but learned a valuable lesson in the meantime.

Just as MRI and CAT scans examine each detail of a person’s head via ultra-sensitive modern machines, so are our deeds in This World closely examined. Our intentions before, during, and after the performance of each mitzvah are thoroughly inspected from every angle.

Diagnostic imagery provides an analogy for the future accounting we will undergo. We should be extremely careful with each and every action, doing it in the most perfect way possible, so our reading will come out clear and blemish-free!

From the Treasury

Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

Sowing Seeds of Torah

The fact that Parshiot Tazria and Metzora are written as two separate Parshiot begs explanation.

The main issue discussed in Parshat Tazria is the various tzara'at afflictions, while Parshat Metzora discusses the purification process and tzara'at on houses. In fact, most years – besides a leap year – we read both Parshiot on the same week, since they discuss the same topic. But why were they initially separated and given different names?

The acronym of תזריע and מצורע is מת, dead. This alludes to the idea that man must schedule fixed times for Torah study and should "kill himself" for the sake of Torah. As Chazal expound on the verse, "'This is the teaching (תורה) regarding a man who would die in a tent:' Torah only endures in one who kills himself over it." The implied meaning is that when the scheduled time for Torah study arrives, a person must detach himself from all worldly futilities, leave behind all his occupations and pursuits, and sit down to his regular shiur.

The names of Parshiot Tazria and Metzora are a hint to the importance of having fixed times for Torah study. The first topic in Parshat Tazria also hints at this idea. The verse, "When a woman conceives and gives birth to a male," is explained by way of allusion as referring to one who studies Torah and merits creating novel Torah thoughts. This "conception" will then "give birth" to further innovations. It can be compared to sowing a small seed in the ground, from which sprouts a large tree. How many numerous chiddushim were the result of some small chiddush from Rashi or the Rambam. Sometimes even a chiddush one hears from a young child can be the catalyst for a novel idea.

This is the fundamental message to be derived from the second topic, the matter of tzara'at afflictions – the punishment for those who speak lashon hara. Lashon hara and futile talk are the opposite of sowing seeds of Torah. That is why the Parshah begins with the importance of fixing times for Torah study, and accustoming one's offspring to sow seeds of Torah. This is the way to stay away from lashon hara, pre-empting the necessity for tzara'at.

The Sabbatical Year

1. One should not cook fruits that are usually eaten fresh. One may make jam from orange peels that have kedushat shevi'it, as long as the actual fruit is not cooked.

2. If one makes jam with (edible) peels that have kedushat shevi'it, one must be careful to eat the jam before the time of bi'ur.

3. One may not mix peirot shevi'it with something bitter, or spoil their taste in any other way, because this would be considered wasting them. One may also not mix peirot shevi'it with medicine, to sweeten the taste of the medicine.

4. If one makes compote from peirot shevi'it (or soup from vegetables that have kedushat shevi'it), one is not obligated to put the leftovers into the refrigerator, even though leaving them out of the refrigerator will cause them to spoil.

5. Shemittah fruits and vegetables should be eaten as usual, and when one finishes eating one does not have to be concerned about the small amount that remains on the plate or in the pot. One may throw these insignificant leftovers into the garbage, and the plate and pot should be washed as normal.

However, if there is a significant amount of remains that one would normally keep for himself or his animals, or return to the pot, but in this case he wishes to discard it, he should not throw it into the garbage, but should deal with it as outlined previously.

6. One may wash pots and plates containing leftovers of Shemittah foods, even though the leftovers are thereby wasted, as long as the quantity is an amount one would not normally go to the trouble of collecting and keeping.

7. One may make vegetable soup from Shemittah vegetables, such as tomatoes and carrots, since one of the ways to eat these vegetables is cooked or fried.

8. One may eat raw carrots or use them for salad. One may shred the carrots and then wash the machine from (insignificant) remains in the regular way.

For any questions in practical application of these halachot, please consult a rabbinical authority.

Zecher Tzaddik Livracha

Rabbi Shlomo Pinto Zatsal

Rabbi Shlomo Pinto married the sister of Rabbi Khalifa Malka zt”l, from the city of Tetouan. Rabbi Khalifa was very wealthy and after Rabbi Shlomo married his sister, the two became loyal business partners, enjoying much success in their endeavors.

However, their great wealth did not blind them and they lived their lives according to the dictum of Rabbi Amnon of Magnetza zt"l: "A man's origin is from dust and his destiny is back to dust." On all occasions they dedicated their time to Torah study and avodat Hashem.

They entrusted most of their business transactions to loyal employees who acted as their managers. Thus, the two tzaddikim were free to engage in the study of Torah with peace of mind. Occasionally, their learning sessions were interrupted by the managers with urgent questions, but the moment their employees left, they again plunged into the depths of Torah without wasting a moment.

Most of the day the two tzaddikim sat wrapped in their tallit and tefillin, studying together. A large portion of their time was spent discussing various opinions for answers to questions sent by those who sought the true halachah.

Their study sessions continued constantly, whether they were on land or at sea, traveling far from their homes for business purposes. Both possessed ships that transported merchandise between Morocco, Spain and Portugal.

Eventually, Rabbi Shlomo Pinto followed his brother-in-law and moved to the city of Agadir. But in Agadir he met with tragedy: his young wife passed away, leaving him widowed and childless. In wake of this tragedy, Rabbi Shlomo left Agadir and moved to Marrakesh. There he married his second wife, from the Ben-benisti family. He later returned to Agadir where the entire house was illuminated with joy on the birth of a son whom they named Chaim. He became the famous gaon and mekubal, the tzaddik Rabbi Chaim Pinto zy”a.

Rabbi Shlomo Pinto had ten sons. They all studied Torah day and night in the yeshiva of Agadir. One evening, one of Rabbi Shlomo's sons returned from yeshiva and hung his jacket in the entrance hall. At that moment, a poor man entered their house. He was so destitute he did not even have the means to provide his children with food. He grabbed this son's jacket, left the house, and sold the jacket. With the money he received, he bought food for his family’s dinner.

At midnight, he began feeling excruciating pains in his abdomen. His wife, observing his intense pain, tried to solve the mystery. “Please, tell me,” she asked her husband, “Did you commit any transgression today which may have caused you such suffering?”

“Yes,” he admitted guiltily. “I stole a jacket from Rav Pinto’s house and sold it to buy food.”

With the first rays of dawn, his wife rose, took one of her possessions and quickly ran to the man who had purchased the jacket from her husband. She asked him to return it in exchange for what she had brought from her home.

Meanwhile, Rabbi Shlomo’s son awoke and began preparing for the Shacharit prayers. He went to the entrance hall where he had hung his jacket, but to his dismay, he could not find it. The young boy hurried to his father and told him, “Father, my jacket has disappeared! How will I be able to go to the beit knesset to pray Shacharit?”

“Whoever took your jacket will return it shortly,” his father answered him calmly.

As they were talking, they heard a knock on their door. On the doorstep stood the wife of the pauper, holding the jacket in her hand. She began to beseech the Rav, crying, “Honorable Rav, you know my husband is very poor, and he stole the jacket. But now he is lying in bed, writhing in pain. Please, honorable Rav, pray for his recovery!”

“Go home, your husband is already cured,” Rabbi Shlomo informed her.

The woman went home and to her amazement, after returning the stolen article and begging forgiveness in his name, her husband’s pain had indeed subsided.

About twelve years after the birth of his son Chaim, Rabbi Shlomo Pinto zy"a returned his soul to his Maker, on the first of Nissan 1761. May his merit protect us, Amen.


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