In Tazria-Metzora, this week’s Torah portion, we read about various forms of biblical ritual impurity. It addresses cleansing from skin disease (צָּרַעַת, tzara’at). What was tzara’at, this skin disease? The person with tzara’at has to present their case to a priest to determine the right course of action. Why would you need to present a medical case to anyone other than a doctor?
One approach is simply that tzara’at not a medical condition. In the Talmud Rabbi Samuel bar Nahmani said in the name of Rabbi Yohanan that skin disease results from seven things: slander, the shedding of blood, vain oath, incest, arrogance, robbery, and envy (Arakhin 16a.) Even so, how would a priest help you deal with one of these seven sins?
Ideally the priests followed in the ways of Aaron. The priests tried to literally be the “disciples of Aaron, loving peace and pursuing peace; love your fellow creatures and draw them nigh unto the Law!”( Avot 1:12) They were peacemakers. Who else would be able to deal with these seven sins?
I was thinking about the person of Aaron this past Shabbat. My wife was away and I was having Shabbat dinner with our three children. While I was making Kiddush Emunah (3) started screaming. In response Yishama (6) yelled at her saying he hates her and her screaming and stormed off to the living room. Emunah started to cry. Without saying a word Yadid (9) went off to the living room leaving me head in hand. I have no idea what they talked about, but a couple of moments later Yadid returned to the dining-room. He gently but his arm around his crying sister and said, “Yishama apologizes for what he said”. And just like that, we had peace again.
At that moment all I could think about was Aaron. He was an ideal priest of the people, far more beloved for his kindly ways than was Moses. While Moses was stern and uncompromising, brooking no wrong, Aaron went about as peacemaker, reconciling man and wife when he saw them estranged, or a man with his neighbor when they quarreled, and winning evil-doers back into the right way by his friendly interactions. (Avot de-Rabbi Natan 12 and Sanhedrin 6b). I grabbed Yadid and give him a big hug. I said to him that he is the gilgul, reincarnation, of Aaron. Yadid is a Tzadik. I hope by the time Yadid reads this blog his tender soul is revealed to more of the world. But, for now I am happy that this Tzadik saved my Shabbat meal last week.
Having this experience with my son makes we question what else could restore peace to the world. Other then someone who works tirelessly to help people make peace for themselves, what else could heal the world? What else could remove the blemish of one of these seven sins?
I hope that this Shabbat goes smoother for everyone. Shabbat Shalom.