Flat Tire

Friday, 4 April, 2014 - 3:18 pm

Thump! Thump! Thump! …The unmistakable sound of a flat tire against the pavement.

There is nothing like the realization that whatever I thought I was doing today is no longer the plan. There is nothing like changing a spare tire in the rain, and certainly, nothing like changing a tire in a suit. And why does it always seem to happen on the ‘Worst Possible Day’?

These thoughts were going through my head as I pulled up to South Peninsula Hebrew Day School on Tuesday, when I already had many more things on my plate than I could handle.

In this week’s Parsha, we learn about the laws of Tzara’at – the biblical leprosy, which the Talmud explains afflicted a person because of a spiritual cause, manifesting itself with physical symptoms. At times the malady appeared on one’s body, on one’s clothing, and, as in our Torah Portion, on one’s home.

Upon observing the Tzara’at on his home, the owner was to go the Priest and tell him, “Kanega Ra’eeti lee ba’bayeet – I saw this lesion for myself on my house.” Why mention the word ‘Lee --for myself’? Just say ‘I saw this lesion on my house’? Forgot the ‘for myself’.

The Midrash relates that the Tzara’at disease was progressive. First it appeared on one’s home, and if one got the message, meaning, that the person identified the spiritual root-cause – he repented, and was done with it. For some, the warning on their home wasn’t enough, and so the Tzara’at then appeared on their clothes. And if that wasn’t enough, one’s very skin displayed -- for themselves and others -- their spiritual flaws which needed fixing.

In this context – we see that Tzara’at is a demonstration of G-d’s love and patience with us. The message was for us, the punishment should have been directed at me, were it not for G-d’s love. Instead, I received a message through my home or my clothing.  Therefore, the owner was instructed to verbalize “The affliction that was ‘Lee – [inteneded or destined] for me’ was instead placed on the house.  

I guess Hashem was telling me a message this past Tuesday. Baruch Hashem it was only a tire –changed in business attire. It could have been much worse. Not sure what the lesson is, but I’m sure there is one, and I just need to dig (or ask my wife) to discover it.

The Talmud tells us that there is a real positive to ‘House-Tzara’at’. When removing the affected parts of the home, one would invariably find valuables hidden by previous owners.

The rewards of fearless introspection are the real ‘Launchpad’ of life-success. And now we can understand a further reason the Torah says ‘Lee—for me’: the Tzara’at is for the owner’s benefit.  The pathway to personal spiritual wealth is open to those who bravely find growth –in the Tzara’at in their homes –and in their flat tires.

Now if I could get rid of the spare-tire ‘round my waist...

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Yisroel Hecht

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