“Parsha and Purpose” – Tazria Metzora 5780
Rabbi Kenneth Brander’s weekly insights into the parsha
“The State of Israel and God’s Messengers”
The State of Israel and God’s Secular Messengers
One of the questions that has been asked often in this generation is, Can the State of Israel really be the beginning of the Jewish People’s final redemption? After all, how can God’s work begin and be developed through people like Ben Gurion, who was not an observant Jew? Can it be that a non-observant Jew could be the leader of such a movement, of such a revolution, of such a Ma’aseh HaShem – an miraculous act of God?
This question is important this time of year because this Shabbat we usher in the new month of Iyyar.
On the 5th of Iyyar, we celebrate Yom haAtzma’ut.
The day prior, we mourn all of the soldiers who’ve given their lives al kiddush haShem, for the establishment and for maintaining the State of Israel. Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, zt”l, said, if somebody wants to pray by the grave of a righteous person, they don’t need to travel to Tzefat or to Hevron; they can simply go to Har Herzl military cemetary and pray by any of the graves of the young people who gave their lives al kiddush haShem.
Iyyar is also the month in which we celebrate the reunification of Jerusalem, on the 28th. Can all of these miracles have been initiated by a group of individuals who were not formally observant?
This week’s Torah portion answers that question for us. It focuses on the metzora, the leper; someone who is removed from the camp because he or she is involved in idle gossip.
And the Haftara for Parshat Metzora, (if it were not Rosh Chodesh, as it is this year) is the story about Gehazi and his three children. They were the assistants to Elisha, the prophet of their time, until they sold him out. And yet, we are told in the Haftara that these spiritual lepers, these individuals who embarrassed the spiritual leader of the Jewish People and created a chillul haShem, were the individuals who brought salvation and redemption to the Jewish People in the northern kingdom, when the Shomron was besieged. And they report the miracle that has happened to the Jewish People to save them from certain death.
Rav Aharon Soloveitchik wrote in an article that if you want to understand the fact that anyone who is motivated to save the Jewish People can be God’s shaliach, can be God’s messenger, it’s in the Haftara of this week’s Torah portion. Gehazi, who was a spiritual leper – much worse than any of the leaders that helped bring the redemption – people who may not have been formally observant, but were totally committed to the Jewish People.
The Haftara that reminds us that anyone can be the shaliach of HaKadosh Baruch Hu; anyone can be God’s messenger.
We are not here to question who God uses as His emissaries to bring the redemption, but we must have Hakarat haTov, we must celebrate what HaKadosh Baruch Hu has done in this generation.
“Even ma’asu haBonim hayta leRosh Pina” – the brick that was viewed by the nations of the world as something to be destroyed, ignored; the stone that was to be outcast, the Jewish People, has become a centerpiece of the world – started by people like Ben Gurion.
Rav Chaim Ben Atar, the Ohr HaChayim HaKadosh, tells us in Sefer Vayikra that HaKadosh Baruch Hu is going to look for the final redemption to come from the tzaddikim, from the righteous, but they will be preoccupied with other things, so HaKadosh Baruch Hu will turn to other Jews, who may not be as formally observant, and they will help bring the redemption.
It is up to us, all Jews, all people, to celebrate the gift of the State of Israel, and for us to recognize that even in these challenging times, we need to recognize the miracles that God has given us in this generation.
Chag Atzma’ut Sameach! Enjoy the holiday of Yom haAtzma’ut, perhaps in a muted way, just with our family. Let us remember those who have given their lives in order to allow all Jews around the world to understand the freedom that comes with Medinat Yisrael.