Parshas Tazria: Global Warming

By Rabbi Zvi Teichman
Posted on 04/12/24

The Metzora is one who has come up deficient spiritually and is thus afflicted with a type of leprosy. This state is an indication that the healthy lifeforce that naturally breeds robust physical health has been jeopardized by his moral failure which has blocked off that vibrant flow resulting in a partial death of his body, as evidenced in his diseased and rotting flesh. 

There are two primary colors associated with the majority of the seventy-two possible signs of these impure skin afflictions governed by the laws of tzara'as, לבנה ואדמדמת— white and red.

The famed 18th century scholar and author of Mesilas Yesharim, Rav Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, reveals that the color white is associated with the impurity of Yishmael, and red with the pollution of Esav.

White is pure, it does not absorb color but reflects them all. It is selfless and thus submissive to the needs of others and thus appropriately representative of חסד — kindness. 

Red is the color of blood which provides strength and vigor to our organs and limbs and therefore symbolic of גבורה — strength.

In a perfect world our mission is to emulate G-d by engaging in selfless acts of kindness to others. It is through the gift of communication, specifically the faculty of speech, that when used correctly will connect us to others creating bonds of pure friendship.

Similarly, our physical strength should be employed to provide for others and assist them altruistically.

But due to our carnal instincts and thirst for personal pleasure we often feign kindness to engage with others with the intent of gaining benefit from others at best, or by manipulating their vulnerabilities to gain personal advantage over them.

The Rama MiPano, 16th century scholar and kabbalist, directs us to the devious and scheming 'לבן' הארמי — Lavan the Deceiver, who was thus named לבן — white, because he was the embodiment of corrupted kindness, who time and again fooled others with his displays of loyal devotion merely to ingratiate himself.  

Yishmael — the son of Avraham the paradigm of the attribute of חסד —kindness — and his progeny are forever renowned for their licentious behavior.

The instrument for connection — which was gifted to man so that he may succeed in emulating his Creator, creating children together with his soulmate, devoting himself selflessly to his partner and child, generating a world of kindness — became in the hands of these beasts a tool to abuse and humiliate the most vulnerable, while ingratiating their wild animalistic lust.

The strength that was destined for man was purposed so that man could control oneself, not others, in mastering his instincts so that his base drives would never interfere with his mission of pure kindness.

Esav personifies the exploitation of this talent in crushing others in the pursuit of obtaining power and dominion over others in his quest for self-promotion and honor.

When one abuses the gift of speech and its ability to express our innermost and heartfelt pure emotions, utilizing it instead as a weapon of destruction of other's reputations and feelings, it is no wonder these alien forces take over his body and are self-destructing.  

We are living in a world that is eroding quickly. Respect for others, reverence for morals and ethics, simple human decency no longer exists.

In the guise of respect for all beings and their predilections, a new culture of 'squatters' has imposed their 'values' embracing the most degenerate of behaviors, supporting the vilest of enemies, transforming an alleged pursuit of respect for all into hate mongering and a total revocation of law, leading to total anarchy.

In the laws governing tzara'as, there is a confounding rule.

Although when observing a single spot on one's body that is determined to be qualified as Tzara'as, is now impure and deserving of quarantine, the Torah goes on to state that 'if the tzara'as will cover the entire skin of the affliction from his head to his feet… then he shall declare the affliction to be pure; כלו הפך — having turned completely, לבן — white, טהור הוא — it is pure.'

The Talmud in Sanhedrin (97a) when discussing the end of days, quotes Rabbi Yitzchok who says: The son of David will not come until the entire kingdom will be converted to מינות — heresy. Rava says: What is the verse from which this statement is derived? It is the verse: “It is all turned white; he is ritually pure” (Leviticus 13:13).

If there is a healthy body with a spot of disease, there is hope that it can be conquered. We all have internal struggles and must attempt to correct our flaws. But when we are totally consumed by corrupted kindness the end is near.

A world that is bereft of a greater ethic that is beyond man's ken, is a world afflicted with a chronic self-destructing disease.

The world worries about global warming's effect on the planet whilst they cooly reject anyone who stands in the way of their selfish ways.

The laws of tzara'as teach us otherwise. We can only restore the world to vibrant life if we bring authentic 'global warming' in the supportive and selfless attitudes we display genuinely toward one another!


צבי יהודה טייכמאן