Parashat Metzorah – Shabbat Hagadol 5779
Rabbi Daniela Szuster
“Admitting our problems and looking for help”
This week’s parashah, Parashat Metzorah, deals mainly with the rules concerning Tzaraat, leprosy, and describes the ritual of purifying and reintegrating the person who was ill with that disease back into the society.
In addition, the text also mentions the appearance of a “plague” in the stones of a person’s house. It is written:
“When you enter the land of Canaan that I give you as a possession, and I inflict an eruptive plague upon a house in the land you possess, the owner of the house shall come and tell the priest, saying, “Something like a plague has appeared upon my house.” (Vayikra 14:34-35).
According to these verses, when someone found in his or her house a plague, that person had to tell this to the priest.
It is interesting to note that the person was not asked to solve the problem or abandon the house. A person was only required to go to the Cohen, the priest, and tell him what is happening in the house. The person had to admit that something wrong was happening in his house, and it was out of his control.
What does “a plague in the house” mean? Many sages agreed that it was a mysterious phenomenon. However, we may understand the term “a plague in the house” as a conflict or problem happening in the house. Maybe a child is misbehaving, a parent is depressed, someone is suffering from addictions, domestic violence, etc. We may consider any disorder we may find in family relationships as “a plague in the house”. So, if there is a problem at home, out of your control, what does the Torah advise you to do?
The person has to go to the Cohen and admit that something wrong is happening in his house: “Something like a plague has appeared upon my house.” First of all, the person or the entire family, has to recognize that there is a problem which is out of their control and that they, indeed, need help. It is important to admit that we need help. This is the first step for a successful conflict resolution. No person or family can solve their problems if, first of all, they don’t recognize and admit they have problems. After recognizing the problem, the second step is to look for help.
I believe this week’s parashah teaches us a great lesson, when we are dealing with a difficult situation involving our family or friends or dealing with a problem all by ourselves. We need to understand that there is a “plague”, a problem, and that there is no shame to have it, that it is part of the nature of life and human beings’ relationships with each other. After we recognize that there is a “plague”, we should go to the Priest who, in our times, could be a therapist, spiritual leader, social worker, counselor or a good friend and ask him or her for help.
During this week, while we are removing the Chametz from our houses, it is a good time to reflect on the “plagues” we have in our houses.
I hope we are able to follow this important lesson when we are dealing with difficult situations in our homes and in our lives.
Rabbi Daniela Szuster