By Arik Speaker
Head of the International Mechina,
World Bnei Akiva

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Hashem spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying:

When you enter the land of Canaan that I give you as a possession, and I inflict an eruptive plague upon a house in the land you possess, the owner of the house shall come and tell the priest, saying, ‘Something like a plague has appeared upon my house'”

With these words begin the last part of the extremely long description of the halachot of the different types of Tzaraat – the plague of the house.

As you can see, this particular type of Tzaraat only happens in Eretz Israel. The strange thing is that the Torah seems to be announcing it in a festive way. This is why the Gmara in Horayot, which Rashi brings in his commentary, says the following:

This was an announcement to them that these plagues would come upon them because the Amorites concealed treasures of gold in the walls of their houses… and in consequence of the plague they would pull down the house and discover them.

Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapira, more commonly known as the Rebbe of Piaszecna, wrote a secret book in the Warsaw Ghetto which was discovered later on and published under the name “Aish Kodesh”

There he describes a drasha he gave to his chassidim on this Shabbat. He asks the simple question – If Hashem indeed wants to give treasure to his nation, why then should the home become impure?

His answer is amazing and oh so relevant today.

He says that sometimes Hashem brings us difficult situations which, with some deep understanding and Emunah, actually brings us closer to Hashem. This is seen countless times in the Tanach and throughout Jewish history, both on the national level or on the personal familial level. Who hasn’t had the feeling that his prayer are the strongest when a close one is sick?

But sometimes, the Aish Kodesh says, sometimes Hashem brings us “tzarot” – hardships – that only distance us from Him. Here in the Ghetto we can hardly pray, learn and keep Mitzvot. This is Tzaraat Habayit. Your home becomes impure. And this might result in the destruction of the home

“… the priest shall come to examine: if the plague has spread in the house, it is a malignant eruption in the house; it is unclean. The house shall be torn down—its stones and timber and all the coating on the house—and taken to an unclean place outside the city”.

Indeed the whole house needs to be destroyed and rebuilt from scratch. But when you will do that – you will discover all of this was nothing else than a gift from Hashem. Ultimately, this was another way to come closer to Him.

These incredible words are said by a great man in the most awful and disastrous situation in the entire human history.

Of course the hardship can in no way be compared to the current crisis. But in this specific perspective, the problem is of the same essence. There’s no doubt that Hashem is trying to tell us something. To teach us something. And one of the frustrating things is that with all the world of Torah, the shuls, the Jewish schools, Youth movements, and so many others at the total stop – we can ask ourselves: how should all of this bring us closer to Him? Shouldn’t we be davening with hundreds of thousands at the Kotel? Shouldn’t we be filling our Kollelim and Yeshivot? Well, obviously the answer is no.

Hashem seems to want something else, which we still need to understand. But by looking at the Parasha we can see that there needs to be some king our deconstructing in order to reconstruct – and that inside all of this – deeply hidden in the walls, there is a beautiful treasure. 

If there’s a perfect time to start the work of deep retrospection on the personal and national level, there’s no doubt that it is during the period between our first and eternal Geula and the time of our original and eternal reception of the Torah – and maybe even more specifically, during the period of Yom Hashoa, Yom Hazikaron and Yom Haazmaut.

May will all be blessed with a healthy body and mind throughout these times