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Tazria(Leviticus 12-13)

Tazria 5776

GOOD MORNING!  My grandmother was a worrier. When everything was good, she worried about what she didn't know that might be going wrong. As a kid, I would call up my grandmother when I had a fever just to hear her krechtz (give an anxious sigh) and say, "Oy, vey is mir!" (woe unto me). Then she would say in Yiddish, "It should be on my head and not on yours -- I should be sick, not you!" They just don't make too many grandmas like that anymore!

Worry is destructive. It's debilitating. It accomplishes nothing. It keeps us from having joy in life and from being productive. Yet, it is so hard for most people to stop worrying.

Worry has been likened to interest paid in advance on a debt that may never come due. Worry is like a rocking chair -- you go back and forth, but you get nowhere. When one worries, he fears about future consequences. Deep down, worriers believe that fear is an acronym -- Future Events Already Real.

So, why do we worry? The best that I can figure out is that there is a psychological payoff. One is faced with a situation or a possible outcome for which he feels helpless to effect change. Worrying -- on an emotional level -- gives a person the sense that he is doing something about the situation. Perhaps there is the feeling that if I don't worry, I'm not taking this event seriously ... and that is just not right!

We feel helpless, powerless to effect a change. Why? Some things are out of our power to change.

How can one stop worrying? From the Torah point of the view the answer is simple, though the implementation is often hard -- trust in God. Think about it -- either you trust in yourself -- your brain, your power, your money, your connections -- or you trust in God. Who really has the power to change things? We have to make our efforts, but nothing happens unless God wills it to happen. Once we realize that God has the power to change things, then we can start to lessen the stress. As my teacher, Rabbi Noah Weinberg, loved to remind his students -- "If God would help you, do you think you could do it?"

Does God want to help you? Yes! Your challenge is to realize that what you are facing, be it big or small, is an opportunity from God to grow in character and spirituality -- for our benefit to come closer to God.

Before you call, fax or email to blast me for being pollyannaish, naive and simplistic, demanding that I remove you from the distribution list -- ask yourself, "What lessons in life, what growth did I have when everything was going well?" We all love our comfort. We do not desire or seek pain, suffering, challenges. However, in retrospect we see the growth that comes through our challenges. Do not take it from me. Read what Miles Levin, a 19 year old young man who fought an aggressive and painful cancer which ultimately took his life:

"I'll try and explain why this (the cancer) is the best thing that could have happened to me. There is only one path to greatness and it runs through hell. Trials make or break a person. The greater the ordeal, the more strength you'll attain upon surmounting it or the further you will fall. So, while I have been given a terrible curse, I have also been given a rare opportunity. I would go so far as to call it an ugly blessing." (LevinStory.com)

Trusting in God does not mean that everything will come out the way we want it; trusting in God means that however it comes out, is the way it is supposed to be and the best for me.

How do you develop trust in God? Make a list of where God has helped you in the past. Thank the Almighty, express your gratitude for what He has done for you and the blessings He has bestowed upon you. Ask the Almighty for help! Pray. Put your time and effort into these three steps every time you start to worry.

The Talmud instructs us that one should "praise the Almighty for the bad that happens just as one would praise the Almighty for the good" (Talmud Brachos 54a). We may think something is bad because it is painful or bitter, but just as medicine may be bitter, it is not bad -- ultimately, it is for our good.

When asked how it is possible to bless the bad as one would bless the good, Rebbi Elimelech, a learned and holy Jew who lived in abject poverty and who had his share of afflictions replied, "I don't know why you are asking me. Nothing bad has ever happened to me in my life!"

 

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Torah Portion of the week

Tazria, Leviticus 12:1 - 14:9

The Torah continues with the laws of physical and spiritual purity. The focus of this portion is upon tzora'as, a supernatural physical affliction sent to warn someone to refrain from speaking badly about others. The disease progressively afflicted home, clothes and then one's skin -- unless the individual corrected his ways and followed the purification process stated in the Torah.

There are two types of speech transgressions: 1) Loshon Hora (literally "evil tongue") -- making a derogatory or damaging statement about someone even though you are speaking the truth ... and 2) Rechilus (literally "tale bearing") -- telling someone the negative things another person said about him or did against him. Email editorial@chofetzchaimusa.org to subscribe to daily lessons in Shmirat HaLoshon, proper speech -- call 866-593-8399 or visit their website at https://powerofspeech.org/ for more information -- or buy a copy of Rabbi Zelig Pliskin's book Guard Your Tongue, available at your local Jewish bookstore.

* * *

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states:

"And it will be in the skin of his flesh the plague of tzora'as" (Lev. 12:2).

In this verse the term vehaya ("And it will") is used which denotes joy. Tzora'as is a very painful affliction, what possible joy can there be in having it?

Pain can be viewed as meaningful or random. If pain has meaning -- like the pain that accompanies giving birth -- the pain is more bearable. If one appreciates that pain can be a wake up call to examine one's life, an atonement for something one has done wrong or a challenge and opportunity to grow, then one can appreciate the pain and value its benefit. A person may wish he did not have the pain. He may hate the pain. However, with focus one can have an element of joy in appreciating its meaningfulness.

* * *

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states:

"And the Cohen shall see him on the seventh day" (Lev. 13:5).

The Torah requires a Cohen to be the one to make the decision whether a person's skin affliction is actually tzora'as. This is because the Cohanim were spiritual people who taught wisdom to others. They would be able to advise those afflicted to check through their behavior and to correct their faults. They would also teach the person how to pray to the Almighty for help. Moreover, the Cohanim themselves would pray for the welfare of the person. (Sforno commentary)

This is a lesson for someone who finds that the Almighty has sent him an affliction. Find a spiritual guide who will be able to point out areas in which you can improve yourself, ask him for advice on what to pray for and ask him to pray for you. Those who follow this procedure will gain much from their suffering.

 

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April 8
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Quote of the Week

Worry does nothing about the future,
but it destroys today's peace of mind

 

 

With Tremendous Gratitude to

David & Marilyn Zinn
 
With Deep Appreciation to

Dan Banay

Click here for
An Amazing Story!

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Kalman Packouz

Copyright © 2018 Rabbi Kalman Packouz

April 3, 2016

Visitor Comments: 1

(1) Anonymous, April 6, 2016 3:10 AM

Good article - But is was Reb Zusha (brother of Reb Elimelech)

FYI - This story is brought down in all Chassidishe sources as Reb Zusah......
When asked how it is possible to bless the bad as one would bless the good, Rebbi Elimelech, a learned and holy Jew who lived in abject poverty and who had his share of afflictions replied, "I don't know why you are asking me. Nothing bad has ever happened to me in my life!"

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