The Straight Path

April 16, 2021
IYAR 4, 5781
Candlelighting Time 7:21 PM

            Although involvement in political discussions is fraught with the danger of pursuing a path of duplicity, the present unfortunate situation that the country finds itself to be in requires Torah elucidation. It seems that either people fly off the handle and kill others with various types of weaponry, or the police inadvertently harm or kill someone, violence is on the rise nationwide. Our President, as others before him, calls for more gun control and we stand at the precipice of potential riots hinged upon a trial over the death of someone at the hands of a police officer. Of course, this is the old worn-out issue as to whether people kill with guns or do guns kill? Obviously, people are the perpetrators and the $64, 000 question is what can we do about it? Is more government monitoring of gun sales going to stop any future crazed individual who decides to wreak havoc upon others? We know that it will not, so what is the answer?

            The parsha talks about the spiritual disease referred to as tsora’as. Clearly, this is not a skin infection rather a warning sign from Hashem that we need to examine our approach to life. We are required to not only scrutinize our conduct as far as our actions are concerned but even our manner of speech and what we say is stipulated by the Torah. Perhaps one may ask, why is it so necessary to mandate what we talk about. And if it is necessary, why is the response so harsh that the sinner is banned from society for the amount of time it will take him to reassess his behavior, repent and then be allowed back into our midst. The embarrassment that this person must endure is extreme. After all, he is banned from any contact with anyone and everyone knows exactly why this has happened!

            Sforno makes an incredibly penetrating comment about this portion of the Torah. He writes that the entire world was created so that we can elevate ourselves and emulate the ways of Hashem. Even though the vast majority of mankind cannot reach that level of perfection or anything close to it. However, this noble and sublime plateau of excellence is most likely to succeed within the ranks of the Jewish nation. This does not preclude others from attaining this virtuous eminence, but the success rate is rather limited at that level. He adds that one who has the capacity to attain such prominence and refuses to embark on that crucial and essential journey deserves punishment. It certainly implies a very strong response if one doesn’t reach that level of notoriety. However, look around and see what our country is experiencing and then think again. Would we have gun-toting crazed people shooting innocent victims? Would the police feel so terribly threatened every time they stop someone at a red light when there is a warrant out against him? Of course not and perhaps the real answer to the problem is not to monitor gun sales, but to spend more time helping others navigate the game of life, assist them to understand better their difficulties and guide them to search for reasonable solutions. This doesn’t necessary require therapeutic aid but life coaches to teach those who are at a disadvantage to deal with life in an intelligent and responsible manner. Instead of spending millions on gun control, spend those millions on people management and the results will be much more satisfactory. This is why the Torah is so adamant and strict about our conduct because Hashem in His great wisdom foresaw the decadence that we are now experiencing and gave us the opportunity to resolve our issues in a constructive and effective manner!   


Speaking ill of others invites the punishment of tsora’as. When the sinner has repented, then the Kohen inspects the tsora’as to check that indeed it has ‘healed’. Then he pronounces that the sinner is pure. The statement of the Kohen, which actually allows the sinner to return to society, demonstrates how powerful one’s words can be.