Tazria: Being Surrounded

I have a soon-to-be four year old.  He’s very "with it" and knows what’s going on in the world, more than most kids his age.  So, it surprised me when he started off with his newest shtick.  If we tell or ask him to do something, he will say "no."  However, if we ask "the frog" (in third-person) to do something, he’ll "hop" to it.  Usually, he doesn’t fall for such things, but it seems to work.  Up until yesterday, that is.


I woke the kids up at their usual time and went to make them breakfast.  I noticed that he wasn’t coming to eat, so I called out “Hey!  Where’s the frog!?!?”


He responded from his bed, “I’m dead!”



I was not expecting THAT answer.


Thankfully, he recuperated and is alive again.  Not a bad answer. 


I feel bad for this week’s and next week’s parshiyot.  They speak mainly of tzaraas, a type of skin disease which is a physical manifestation of a spiritual ailment (dang!  THAT was impressive English!)  And since we have no real concept of it, and the details are so many, we sort of quickly go over them.


However, there has always been one question that I’ve had, for which I’ve never seen an answer.  That is, until this week.


As we know, tzaraas was a white skin blemish, and depending on the size and hue, if a person has it, he is considered impure and must wait a certain amount of time before purifying himself.  However, if a person has this white skin blemish covering his entire body, he is considered PURE!  If anything, one would think that he’s super-impure, but, the Torah says otherwise.


Rav Pinkus quotes the Rambam (Hilchos Melachim 6:7) who says that when we go to war against a city and lay siege to it, we must be very careful not to surround the entire city, rather, we should be careful to allow the residents an escape route to flee.  I’m not a general, but this tends to go against sound military strategy.


What’s the reason for this?  Shlomo HaMelech states (Koheles 3:15), “Hashem seeks out the one being pursued” and the Midrash explains, “even the tsaddik who’s chasing the evil doer." In simple English: Somebody who is being pursued and cries out to Hashem, even if he is evil, Hashem will listen to him. 


Therefore, if a city is completely surrounded, and feel that all is lost, they will cry out to Hashem, and there is a better chance that Hashem will save them from our hands.  Therefore, if we allow them to escape, they will not feel that "all is lost" and will not daven to Hashem, and therefore, we will retain the upper hand.  That is one reason one should be careful about afflicting a widow or orphan.  These are people who have no support to lean on and are considered “pursued” by you.  If they cry out to Hashem because of the pain you are causing them….


This too is the lesson of the tzaraas.  When a person receives tzaraas, he is impure.  However, when he is completely surrounded by it, Hashem hears his pain and declares him pure.


This is a good reminder of how we should daven every day.  Whenever we fall because of the Yetzer Harah, we should daven for help as somebody being chased (after all, are we NOT being chased by him?).  When we ask help from Hashem, knowing that we have no room to escape without Him, there will be a better chance that He will help us out.


Have a great Shabbos!