Dvar Torah for Parshat Tazria-Metzora


Based on Rabbi Nachman’s Stories, The Seven Beggars, The 4th Day

{First, a technical note: Because Pesach ended on Friday (the seventh day of the holiday) in Israel, we resumed the cycle of the Torah reading the next day, Shabbat. However, Shabbat in the Diaspora was still Pesach and the cycle is resumed only this week. Therefore, there will be a discrepancy between the Diaspora’s Torah readings and the dvar Torahs until the Diaspora “catches up.” )

For as long as he [the spiritual leper] is diseased he is tameh (repulsive/impure). He must live alone; his place is not with the community. (Leviticus 13:46)

The negaim (spiritual leprosy) are a result of speaking slander. Since his sin involved chatter he needs, for his purification, to bring birds that constantly chatter with the whistling of their voice (Rashi on Leviticus 14:4).

Rashi’s comment, based on our Sages teachings (Erkhin 16b; VaYikra Rabbah 16:7), is an answer to the question: Why is it that birds, rather than goat or sheep, are to be brought as the leper’s sacrifice? The answer is in the voice. While all animals have a voice, birds in particular are known for their “chattering” and “whistling” voices.

Although we might expect that the leper’s atonement would be based on something pertaining more to speech it is based specifically on the voice. Even though speech is what separates mankind from beasts, not all human beings are equally articulate. Nor, for that matter, are our words necessarily our own—we may mimic or plagiarize the words of others, knowingly or not. But our voices are uniquely ours. Just as no two people have the same fingerprints, no two people have the same voice prints.

In Likutey MoHaran I (30:10) Rebbe Nachman writes:

“No two voices are alike, as each person’s voice is different from his friend’s. We are therefore able to recognize a person by his voice...For the type of person that one is determines the voice one has. From his voice it is possible to recognize his aspect of Malkhut (authority).”

It is the voice, not the words, that carries the person’s essence.

In Likutey MoHaran I (#42) the Rebbe writes that the voice of song is the colors of the rainbow, which are the Patriarchs. He goes on to say that one who sings his prayer dresses the Shekhina (Divine Presence) in a rainbow garment. This results in peace being made between God and the Jewish people. This is the opposite of what the slanderer-leper does. By his bad-mouthing another Jew (or group of Jews), whether for religious shortcomings or personality flaws, he creates ill-will between Jews and Jews, which results in a separation between God and the Jews.

This separation is alluded to in the verse, “Like a sparrow wandering from its nest is a man who wanders from his place” (Proverbs 27:8). The Tikuney Zohar (Introduction) teaches that the “sparrow” alludes to the Shekhina, the Congregation of Israel, the “man” to God. The two are twins (Songs 5:2), but, alas, are 1000 miles apart. At night they cry for one another. They want to brought together. Rebbe Nachman points out that the tzaddik (saint) has the voice to still their cry.

In the story of the Beggar with the Crooked Neck, the Rebbe claims two abilities for the tzaddik. One is his ability to mimic any sound whatsoever, the other is the ability is to throw his voice. The fact that the tzaddik can mimic any sound means that each sound in the world contains within it some Godliness that we can use to tune in to God’s voice. It also means that the tzaddik’s voice is a key to hear the “music” of Creation.

The tzaddik’s ventriloquistic talent enables him to throw his voice so that his message can pass across time and space (even centuries and continents) until it reaches its intended audience(s). This talent also allows him to disguise his message in some other form, a prayer or a story.

agutn Shabbos!
Shabbat Shalom!

(If you are interested in learning more about the laws and concepts regarding lashon hara (literally, evil speech) go to http://www.chofetzchaim.com/index.htm.)