This week's double portion speaks primarily about tzaraat, a discoloration appearing on skin, hair, garments, and houses (sometimes misunderstood to mean leprosy). Indeed, most years these two readings are combined. Tzaraat was a physical affliction which often was caused by inappropriate speech. While this manifestation does not exist today, we can still learn from the Torah's description of it.

Isolated blemishes of tzaraat are a sign of spiritual failing…

In the laws of tzaraat is an amazing detail: if some of a person's skin is afflicted with one of the many blemishes that the Torah describes, the individual becomes spiritually impure. However, if the affliction covers his or her entire body, they are deemed pure! "If it all turned white, it is pure." (Lev. 13:9) This does not make sense. More of a bad thing should make a situation worse, not good!?

It is written in the Talmud concerning the imminent redemption, "In the generation when the son of David [Mashiach] will come...the entire kingdom will convert to heresy and there will be no rebuke..." (Sanhedrin 97a). This means that when the world will be ruled not partially but totally by a belief that denies G‑d and his providence, this is an indication that the redemption is imminent. The proof cited is the above law of tzaraat! Isolated blemishes of tzaraat are a sign of spiritual failing and are a consequence of our sins, yet when it covers the person totally - "when it all turns white - it is pure!"

How is it possible that such a low spiritual perception - when evil has the upper hand - is indicative of the Redemption? Either it is Divine Will, regardless of our logic and reality, or, specifically when the world will be at a very low ebb, G‑d will come with His infinite power and bring the Redemption, as the verse says, "For Myself I will do it." (Isaiah 48:11)

That everything is crazy tells us that all of the forces of evil are…making their very last stand….

These explanations apply to our lives. When evil will spread over the entire world, immersing us in its influence, this will not be just an extreme situation. If this were so, we would find some remnants of good somewhere, struggling for survival.

The fact that everything is crazy tells us that all of the forces of evil are emerging, making their very last stand, because they know their end is near. This is the final purification of the world, as the verse says, "The many will be purified and whitened and cleansed." (Daniel 12:10) Evil will separate from good and show itself. The inner reality will have become ready to accept the light of the Redemption and automatically reject evil from its midst. Then the prophecy "All of the nations will call out the name of G‑d with a clear voice and serve Him united" (Zephaniah 3:9) will be fulfilled.

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

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