A tzadik can 'see' our sins and can help us fix them…

One of the priests' tasks was to determine if a sign on a person, garment, or house was, in fact, tzaraat or if it was pure. Rebbe Michel writes that the priests' involvement is a hint about the tzadikim (perfectly righteous) in each generation, whose purpose it is to direct us toward better paths of teshuva. Similarly, the idea of tzaraat, a physical ailment with a spiritual root that is identified by a priest, exists today in that a tzadik can "see" our sins and can help us fix them. The purification for both tzaraat and our sins is teshuva.

Rebbe Michel goes on to explain that the most important part of teshuva is to stop doing sins and regret our negative actions. We should not fool ourselves. But this is not easy! So too in business, valuable merchandise is not only costly and difficult to obtain, but requires much effort to sell, and profit only comes at the end. However, unlike business where there is always a risk that the deal will sour, teshuva provides a guaranteed profit. Teshuva is the best of all merchandise, because any effort we make is beneficial to us. Is it any wonder that the Torah encourages us to invest in teshuva?

And then shall the priest command to take for him that is to be cleansed, two birds live and pure, cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop (Lev. 14:4)

Rebbe Michel phrases the verse to explain the teshuva process: "And then shall the priest command…" is the tzadik who directs us to good. "…To take for him that is to be cleansed…" means that we "take", i.e. pray for ourselves that G‑d will help us move in the correct direction.

birds: the Hebrew word for "bird" - "tzipor", can also be read "tzafar", meaning "light"; the two lights that guide us are self-discipline to stop sinning, and the regret we feel.

…live…: this hints to enthusiasm.

…pure…: this means that we have no ulterior motive to our actions; we simply want to return to G‑d.

…wood…: the Hebrew word for "wood" is "etz", which is related to the Hebrew word for "advice". We should be loyal to a tzadik, using his advice to carry us through difficulties.

…cedar…: the Hebrew word for "cedar" is "erez", which comes from the word "raz", the Hebrew word for "secret". All of this process should be private.

…scarlet…: in Hebrew, this term, "shani tola'at", can be read as "to change the worm". This is the evil inclination that always tries to worm its way into our lives and mess things up.

…hyssop…: in Hebrew, "hyssop" is "azov", which can also mean "he will emit".

The inner dimension of purification includes humbling ourselves…

If we do all of this teshuva process, then our evil inclination will be a constant source of blessing for us and for all of the Jewish people. "Azov"also refers to the person who will consistently grow and "emit" blessings and good deeds by training him or herself to always be humble and lowly. This person accredits nothing to himself and instead focuses on what else can be accomplished. Having this attitude gives a person physical and spiritually health, and hastens the redemption.

The final step of the purification process is immersion in a mikva (ritual bath). The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that just as a person is required to immerse his or her whole body, which can include lowering one's head, so too the inner dimension of purification includes humbling ourselves completely by immersing ourselves totally in Torah.

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

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