This weeks Parasha details the physical manifestation of a spiritual malaise, the primary cause of which is due to slander and the spreading of gossip and character assassination, something so prevalent today. A person showing this anti-social behavior is dealt with ‘measure for measure’ by isolating him from society so that he can experience the pain he has caused to others and thereby reflect and correct his actions.
The first step to his rehabilitation is admitting his flaws by standing publicly in front of the Priest for evaluation.
Admitting one’s own shortcomings is a difficult and humbling experience. As the Talmud states, a person can see the flaws of others but never his own.
The Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Athens, Rabbi Elias Barzilai, said, “How different the generation of today from the previous generations. Today, people try to impress their Rabbis and teachers to show them how pious and observant they are. When I went to my teacher, I would show him my defects in the hopes that he could help me rid myself of them.”
When Rabbi Akiva was a student, his friend and colleague, Yohanan ben Nuri, would report him to his teacher, Rabban Gamliel, for misconduct. After receiving rebuke from his teacher, Akiva showed appreciation to his friend Yohanan and kissed him on his head for being concerned for his well being.
When we take a garment to be cleaned, we call attention to the stains that need to be cleaned. How foolish it would be to conceal them from the cleaner’s eyes.