Sparks of Torah – Parshas Metzorah

By Rabbi Dovid Nussbaum



Hashem commanded the Kohanim to warn the people that they should not become defiled and enter the Mishkan. The punishment for this action is one of the most severe in the Torah, “Koreis”. The sinner dies prematurely and his children as well.  However, Rashi questions this because here the Torah states that one who enters the Mishkan in a state of impurity will die through the ‘hands of Heaven. In other words, although Beis Din, a Rabbincal court cannot execute him for this sin, the Heavenly Court will take action and punish the person for this transgression. However, this does imply that only he will suffer but his children will not, seemingly a contradiction.

Malbim explains the severity of this sin based upon the interpretation of the Aramaic translation of Yonason ben Uziel. The Mishkan is where the Divine Presence resides. When we enter defiled, the Divine Presence does not disappear. On the contrary, Hashem maintains His presence despite the fact that we are ‘exposing’ Him to our impure state. Nonetheless, He remains with us and continues to grace us with His Presence although we are debasing Him. Therefore, the Torah addressed this demeaning approach and levies a death sentence upon the individual. However, we still must question this because since Koreis is the more strict retribution, it would be much more appropriate to impose that upon the sinner instead of the death penalty which is somewhat less critical?

Netziv understands the mention of death in association with this sin in a different vein. Although it is true that the sinner is liable the death penalty at the hands of Heaven, however, there is a much more incisive appreciation to glean from this halacha. Granted that the Mishkan and subsequently the Beis Hamikdash were the depository for Hashem’s Presence, however, the main conduit for Hashem in this world is truly each and every Jewish soul that comprises the comprehensive entirety of this incredibly endowed nation. Only when we invite Hashem in to our midst through the purity of our conduct do we merit the existence of the Mishkan. The Mishkan is the physical hologram that permeates the corporeal regions of the world. But the real ‘location’ of Hashem is within us and therefore we are actually the componential building blocks of the Mishkan. When we corrupt the very concept that we represent, then that reality ceases to exist, in other words, it dies. The Mishkan, that spiritually powered structure that embodies the highest caliber of sanctity and purity cannot endure when its very foundation teeters. Therefore, when the Torah states that one who enters defiled is subject to death, it is not only referring to the Heavenly sentence levied against him. Rather, it is defining the reason for its severity. The antithesis of the Mishkan are those forces in the world that seek to introduce impurity and pollution in to our religious ambiance.

Pesach is around the corner and there are frenzied preparations taking place around the Jewish globe. We are cleaning every nook and cranny to eradicate any slight remain of chometz from our midst. However, let us not forget the goal, the objective of all this intense cleansing. It is a preparation for the Seder, when we gather around and rejuvenate our very essence. We relive our escape from the impurity of each and every Egypt that we experienced during the year and yearn to prepare for the Mt. Sinai that will propel us from where we are to those heights that we truly desire to attain.




Some people mistakenly believe that although they are not accomplishing at the level of their ability, nonetheless, compared to their colleagues they are doing so much more. However, the Torah mentions that if someone can bring an animal sacrifice and instead he substitutes that with a bird or meal offering, he has not fulfilled his obligation. Similarly, we must judge ourselves based upon our capability to achieve and not fall short of our goals.