The Qualified Judge

April 23, 2017 at 8:10 PM , , ,

“…It is a lesion of Tzora’as; when the kohen sees it, he shall pronounce him unclean…” – Vayikra 13:3

נֶגַע צָרַעַת הוּא וְרָאָהוּ הַכֹּהֵן וְטִמֵּא אֹתוֹ – ויקרא יג, ג

A person afflicted with tzora’as can only be deemed pure or impure by a kohen. “If the kohen present does not know how to assess the skin discolorations [to determine if they meet the qualifications of tzora’as],” writes the Rambam (Laws of Tum’as Tzora’as 9:2), “a scholar observes them and instructs the kohen: ‘Declare, “You are impure,”’ and the kohen says: ‘You are impure;’ ‘Declare, “You are pure,”’ and the kohen says: ‘You are pure.’”

This rule reflects the extreme sensitivity necessary when passing judgment on others, especially when the ramifications are as harsh as the impurity associated withtzora’as.

The Torah requires a person deemed impure with tzora’asto “dwell in isolation; his dwelling is outside the camp” (Vayikra 13:46). He is distanced from the entire community, even from others who are impure themselves! The Torah therefore insists that only a kohen can declare someone impure, for a kohen is “a man of kindness” (Devarim 33:8) who “blesses the Jewish nation with love,” (as stated in the blessing that the kohanim recite before Birchas Kohanim). The Torah is certain that out of his love and genuine concern for his fellow Jew, the kohen will spare no effort (within the guidelines of halacha) to try and find an angle from which to save a person from the isolation and misery that comes with the impurity of tzora’as.

The same is true any time we see something unfavorable in another person, even if it is so bad that the person deserves to be distanced from the community. Before passing judgment on our fellow Jew, we must remember that only someone with a genuine sense of love and kindness toward his fellow (in addition to his knowledge of what the Torah deems right and wrong) can make such an important judgment call.

Like a kohen, we must be certain that our sense of judgment is balanced with genuine love for our fellow Jew and sensitivity to his plight.

—Likutei Sichos, vol. 27, pp. 88-90


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