Rabbi's Message

  • April 15, 2016


    Rav Mordechai Shifman, of Emek Academy in Los Angeles, answers a question that has bothered me for years. Hope you find it fulfilling as well! Have a great Shabbos and a Chag kasher v'Sameach!!!

    In this week's Torah portion we are introduced to a form of Tzara'as known as Tzara'as Habayis. This manifested itself as a discoloration upon one of the walls of a person's house and reflected certain transgressions committed by the homeowner. The purification process of the house often resulted in its complete demolition. Rashi cites a Midrash which teaches that upon destruction of the house, precious gems, gold and silver hidden in the walls by the Amorites who inhabited the Land of Canaan prior to Bnei Yisroel entering the land, would be found. The commentaries question why it was necessary for the homeowner to find these treasures? It would appear that the transgressor was being rewarded for his bad behavior.

    Hashem punishes not simply in a punitive manner, rather a corrective one. He wants us to stop being self-destructive and change our ways. Very few people can receive criticism graciously. Often, being criticized has the opposite effect, causing the negative behavior to become even more entrenched. Most of us interpret the criticism being levied against us as not being for our benefit, but to fulfill the agenda of the person who is complaining. What measures need to be taken to ensure that criticism will be constructive? In what manner can Hashem mete out punishment so that it will be viewed by us as a benevolent act?    

    For criticism to be effective, the critic has to establish a loving and caring relationship with the recipient. Only then is there a chance that the message will be viewed as constructive rather than self-serving. Hashem allows the homeowner to find the gems that will permit him to rebuild his home in order to ensure that the punishment will be viewed as constructive and emanating from a place of love.