Thoughts from Kollel KLAL


The passuk states by leprosy on the garment, “צרעת ממארת הנגע טמא הוא, the leprosy is צרעת ממארת, it is tamei.” Also the following passuk states “כי צרעת ממארת הוא באש תשרף, since it is צרעת ממארת in fire it shall be burnt.” Similarly we find this lashon in Parshas Metzorah as it states “צרעת ממארת הוא בבית טמא הוא, it is צרעת ממארת in the house, it is tamei.” What does “צרעת ממארת” mean? The Ramban explains ממארת means a curse; Hashem placed a curse on the garment or on the house. Rashi brings b’shem the Midrash, ממארת means give a מארה, a curse that one shouldn’t have pleasure from it. The Mi’at Tzuri adds that the root of ממארת is ארר, curse.

The Ramban brings Onkelos translates ממארת differently, as “מחזרא, pained by the thorn,” as in Aramaic they call thorns which give pain chizri. Rashi explains ממארת is a lashon סילון ממאיר, a thorn which has a point that pierces and pains. The Mi’at Tzuri adds the root of ממארת is מאר, piercing thorn.

The Ramban explains it is not natural for there to be leprosy on the garment or house. Only when Yisrael serves Hashem with completeness will the ruach of Hashem be over them to keep them healthy and well. Then, if one will sin by chance, a discoloring will appear on his flesh, garment, or house, to show that Hashem’s Shechinah has turned away from him and left him. Therefore the Torah states “ונתתי נגע צרעת בבית ארץ אחזתכם, and I will give a plague of leprosy in the house your of inheritance,” as it is a punishment from Hashem. Although leprosy is not a mitzvah on the land, it will only take place in the land of Eretz Yisrael, the chosen holy land, which is the inheritance of Hashem where He rests. The Toras Kohanim darshins, the laws of leprosy on the house started after Klal Yisrael was settled and were serving Hashem in Eretz Yisrael. So too the leprosy of garments is only in Eretz Yisrael. There is no need to exclude not happening in chutz la’aretz since it will never happen there. Also, leprosy will only happen to white garments, not colored, as on colored garments it may seem that the color of the garment caused a discoloration, and it won’t be clear that it was from etzba of Hashem.

Many bring that Onkelos translates צרעת ממארת as “confinement which causes loss (מחסרא).” The Mi’at Tzuri explains b’shem the Sefer B’chor Shor, ממארת is from ארור which means חסרון, missing. What is missing by the garment and the house?  The Nefesh HaGer explains, the Gemara says one of the reasons why leprosy comes is for being stingy. One who did not want to give tzedakah to a poor person and did not bring him into his house, will be punished with leprosy. The Tanna D’vei Rebbi Yishmael taught, this is as it states “ובא אשר לו הבית.” The word “לו, to him” hints to someone who designates a house for himself alone, and not for someone else. He did not fulfill the Mishnah “let your house be open in abundance and let poor people frequent your house.” Since he was stingy and did not invite poor people, he will be punished middah k’neged midah. His wall will be smashed down and he will lose his own usage from his house. Rashi explains this refers to one who did not lend his vessels to others. If he didn’t lend out vessels or garments, middah k’neged middah they will become ruined. Whatever he was stingy with he will lose and he won’t be able to benefit from it anymore.

I’d like to suggest that the lashon “צרעת ממארת, confinement which causes loss” hints to the Ramban, the Shechinah leaves the place and is missing from that area because of tzara’as. The lashon ממארת is only mentioned by the leprosy on the garment and house, and not by the body. This hints that the leprosy on the house and garment are a clear miracle from Hashem who causes them to become ruined.

May Hashem bring us back to Eretz Yisrael with the Shechinah, b’mheira v’yameinu amen.

Leave a Reply