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  Only as a Last Resort 

Location: BlogsThe Lidrosh Torah Audio Blog
Posted by: Rabbi Elazar Meisels 4/19/2007 1:43 PM

And Hashem spoke to Moshe and to Aharon, saying: When a person will have in the skin of his flesh a spot of intense whiteness or an off-white spot, or a snow-white spot, and it forms on the skin of his body [like] the plague of tzora'as, he shall be brought to Aharon the Kohen, or to one of his sons the Kohanim.” 13:1-2

  • Why does Hashem not instruct Moshe and Aharon to convey these laws to the Jewish people when it surely needed to be done? This is because Hashem wishes never to have to mete out consequences to mankind for their misdeeds. Rather, His desire is to be able to find them innocent of any wrongdoing. [Therefore He neglected to instruct them to relay this message to the Jewish people, as if hoping that it wouldn’t ever be necessary.] Similarly, when Adam sinned by partaking of the Tree of Knowledge, about which he had been warned would lead to his death, Hashem entered into conversation with him hoping that he would seek to repent… – Midrash Tanchumah, Tazria 7,9
  • Rabbi Yehoshuah pointed out in the name of Rabbi Levi that the verse does not say, “When a man among you.” This was to preserve the dignity of the Jewish people by treating its occurrence as an isolated event, not as evidence of a national malady. – Midrash Rabbah, Vayikra 2:11

Although the consequence of Tzaraas no longer afflicts us, in its time, it was certainly a greatly feared form of Divine retribution. Yet, as with most forms of divine retribution, it was only used as a last resort when all else failed. Contrary to popular opinion, Hashem’s greatest desire is that we correct our missteps before He is forced to get involved. Much as a parent hopes not to have to mete out punishment to a beloved child, Hashem wants us, His children, to correct our mistakes without the additional prod of divine intervention.

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