The Mitzvos of a Bad Jew

“…But on the day that live flesh is seen in it, he shall become unclean…” – Vayikra 13:14

וּבְיוֹם הֵרָאוֹת בּוֹ בָּשָׂר חַי יִטְמָא – ויקרא יג, יד

A person afflicted with tzora’as must be examined by a kohen to determine if his lesions indeed bear the signs of impurity. The Talmud notes that only certain days are valid for this examination. We learn this from the verse that states, “on the day that live flesh is seen in it,” instead of “when live flesh is seen in it,” which indicates that this sighting can take place only on specific days and not on others. From here we learn, says R’ Yehudah in the Talmud (Moed Katan 7b), that the lesions of a bridegroom are not examined during the seven days of his wedding celebration. Similarly, no lesions are examined during a holiday, until all the days of the holiday have passed. On these days, we do not disturb the observance of the mitzvah of marriage or the mitzvah to rejoice on the festivals with an examination for possible tzora’as.

lashon hara

The Torah’s exclusion of certain days from examination for tzora’as in order to allow for the joyous observance of the mitzvos is remarkable. Maimonides writes regarding tzora’as, “It is a sign and a wonder prevalent among the Jewish people to warn them against lashon hara, “undesirable speech.” For when one speaks lashon hara, the walls of his house change color… If he persists in his wickedness until his house requires demolition, the leatherwear in his house upon which he sits and lies will change color… If he persists in his wickedness until they require burning, the clothes he wears will change color… If he persists in his wickedness until they require burning, his skin will change and develop tzora’as…” (Hilchos Tum’as Tzora’as 16:10). Hence, the person whose mitzvah observance the Torah is accommodating is a repeat offender of the horrible sin of lashon hara, yet his examination for tzora’as is delayed in order to allow him to celebrate his marriage or the holidays properly.

This teaches us the power of a Jew’s observance of the mitzvos. Even the impurity caused by his otherwise wicked behavior, is suspended and prevailed over by the holiness of the mitzvos that he is currently fulfilling!

—Likutei Sichos, vol. 37, pp. 37-41


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