Thursday, April 3, 2014

Parsha Perspective

By Rabbi Yisroel Shusterman, Dean, Cheder Chabad of Monsey

Does every cloud really have a silver lining? Is there a blessing in disguise inside every curse? Well, admittedly, it isn’t always so easy to discern, but we most certainly do believe in the concept.

This week’s Torah reading Metzora ([Leviticus] 14:1-15:33) deals with the purification of those afflicted by the leprosy-like malady known as tzara’as (a word uncannily similar to tzores!). The Parshah recounts different types of tzara’as manifestations—on a person’s body, in his clothes or even in the walls of his house. In the latter case, if after the necessary quarantine period the stain had still not receded, the stones of the affected wall would have to be removed and replaced with new ones.
Now imagine the walls of your house being demolished. Is that a blessing or a curse? No doubt, the homeowner in question would not feel himself particularly blessed. But, according to our sages, the case was often different for the Israelites living in the Holy Land. The previous Canaanite inhabitants of the land would bury their treasures inside the very walls of their homes. The only way an Israelite would ever discover those hidden valuables was if the stones of the house would be removed. When this happened, it didn’t take long for the poor unfortunate tzara’as-afflicted homeowner to be transformed into the wealthy heir of a newfound fortune. For him, in a moment, the curse became blessing.

A woman was suffering from heart disease, and the doctors said she needed bypass surgery. But she also had other medical complications which made a heart operation too dangerous to contemplate. Her quality of life was very poor. If she went for a walk, she would have to stop and rest every few minutes. Then, one day, she suffered a heart attack. She was rushed to the hospital and the doctors said her only chance of survival was an emergency bypass operation. There was a 50/50 chance of success, but if they didn’t do it she had no chance at all. They performed the surgery and, thank G‑d, she made a full recovery, enjoying many years of greatly improved quality of life with nachas from children and grandchildren. For years she would joke, “Thank G‑d I had a heart attack. I got my bypass!” It was no joke.

It would be naïve to suggest that it always works out this way. Life isn’t so simple, and sometimes it takes much longer to see the good that is hidden in the traumas and difficulties of life. But we will continue to believe that G‑d is good, that He really does want the best for us, and that one day, with hindsight, we will see how each of our frustrations did somehow serve us well in the long term. Who knows if the wiser, more sensitive person we become is not the silver lining itself?

In general, there are two qualities which form a powerful combination to help us appreciate that there is a hidden goodness inside every misfortune: faith and patience. With faith that there is a higher, better purpose to life, and with patience to bide our time for its revelation, we will be able to persevere and weather the crises of life.

Please G‑d, may we all find our silver linings soon.

(Excerpts from Chabad.org - by Rabbi Yossy Goldman)

May you have a meaningful and uplifting Shabbos!

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