Parshas Metzoro
Leviticus 14:1 - 15:33

Preparing An Unclean House...for Pesach ©

By Dr. Akiva G. Belk

This study of the weekly parsha is dedicated in the loving memory of Mr. Donald and Mr. Gary Belk may they rest in peace.

What goes on within the walls of your house... my house... the neighbor's house? If the walls could only speak, the stories they could tell! In Parshas Metzoro the walls actually do speak. The walls say "Neg Gah Ztaw Rah Ahs" meaning an "eruption of {deep green / deep red} tzora'as {appeared in the plaster and rock}." Now the Torah says that this may happen "when you come into the land of Canaan {Eretz Yisroel}.

B'nei Yisroel would be occupying houses of people driven from the land. There is no telling what may have happened inside the homes of the former occupants. When one enters a house it may appear clean but the walls, the ceilings and the floors may be saturated with years of filth unknown to the new inhabitants. The physical house, the molecules of the house, the particles of the house are experiencing a chemistry change between the former residents and the new residents. This chemistry change has an effect. The difference is like a non smoking resident as compared to a smoking resident.
The Story Of An Unclean House At Pesach
An investor purchased a home in which smokers lived for many years. The former residents were filthy. They were alcoholics! They engaged in domestic violence! They were in trouble. The interior of the house was nicotine stained from the color of a carboard box to that of the coppertone color of appliances from the 50's / 60's. Grease was caked on kitchen walls and ceilings beyond a quarter of an inch in areas. There were holes in the walls ranging from football size up where the door handles and walls met. The living room carpet was ripped, burned and stained beyond description. The bathroom area needed gutting and replacing. This home was the very worst. There is no means of describing how horrible this house was especially when one considers pet feces of who knows how long.

The investor employed a company to recreate the entire house. Several men labored there for about three weeks. I observed their progress. The carpet was removed and replaced. The parquet was refinished! Powerful chemicals were used to clean walls, ceilings, doors, windows, etc. Walls, ceilings doors, etc. were scraped and sanded, repaired and patched as required. The ceilings were sprayed with acoustic. The house was prepped and painted inside and out. The roof was replaced. Eventually the house looked "ALMOST" new!

Having lived next door to this house was an experience. Day or night, domestic fights would erupt. Beer bottles and pots and pans would fly, doors slammed, screams, shouting, name calling, profanity, animals yelping... it was awful! The police were called often. No arrests were made. This was in the days before the term "domestic violence" existed...

Can you imagine living next door? Can you visualize living just ten feet from this tragic and explosive problem? It was horrible!

A house has an attraction. A feel, an appeal. Not just to the eyes, but also to one's other senses. So it is absolutely no shock or surprise to state that the new tenant, the new neighbor was a tall, slender, pot smoking, beer drinking, long haired hippie, with a girlfriend and an Alaskan huskie.I couldn't help but wonder if this was a reincarnation of the former occupants thirty years earlier.

The new renters occupied the house with no knowledge of its past ghosts. The past lives of this house are similar to the houses B'nei Yisroel would be occupying when they possessed Eretz Canaan. After B'nei Yisroel occupied the houses in Eretz Canaan, if a greenish or reddish eruption appeared they were to call for the Kohen for inspection.

Now we must examine why this eruption appears. Idolatrous, sinful people fled many of the houses. The new residents were righteous, Torah observant Jews. The residue left behind... in the molecules of the house... in the particles of the house... absorbed into the walls, ceilings, floors, etc. was in great conflict with the new residents. It is no wonder that eruptions resulted.

However most righteous residents would not just occupy a house first before a thorough cleaning. The new Jewish residents would remove the contents of the house then clean and prepare the house before moving in. That being the case, the house would have been cleared of most of the unwanted molecules and particles existing from former occupants.

However Rashi states, "This is an announcement to them {the new owners of the house} that the eruptions will come upon them because the Amorites hid treasures of gold in the walls of their houses throughout the forty years that the Israelites were in the desert, and by means of the eruption {the Israelite} tears down the house and finds them." So from this angle it would appear as a blessing and not as a sin.

However if the "Neg Gah Ztaw Rah Ahs" returned, then the nature of the problem was serious and sinful. When B'nei Yisroel lived in the BaMidbar in tents just a few feet away from the next tent, in close congestion, in range of voices and sound, it is not likely that people would say things about their neighbors for fear of being overheard. Then when B'nei Yisroel dispersed over a vast countryside and into cities with houses and walls, the opportunity to let down one's guard to say loshon hora would be easy and a greater temptation, G-d forbid!

Could it be that the residents to be from B'nei Yisroel were attracted to homes of their
given dispositions as this hippy couple was drawn to the above house?

Dear reader, holy reader who is not living in Eretz Yisroel, how does all this play out for us? Well, months ago, back in the first week of January we discussed the Festival of Freedom that would soon be approaching and now it is just days away. Then we discussed the similarities of turning over a new leaf and entering the month of Nissan. We stated,

Every year at this time {new year's, January first} we begin the discussion of freedom. Discussing freedom requires change. Isn't it interesting that at this time of year so many world residents make NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS? Residents of the world are moved to reflect on the need for change. They accredit this change to the new year but in fact it actually is the result of a much older tradition, that of Parshas Shemos. So much GOOD comes from the concept of turning over a new leaf. Start the new year on the right foot. Get off to a good start. The old year is behind us and a new year is starting. The winds of change are very strong during the next four weeks. The attitude of shuvah / repentance is great. It's wonderful! Very wonderful!!

Yet, unfortunately, four weeks from now the majority of the world's residents will have begun their drift back towards their unconquered problems. Why? New year's resolutions fade. There is a very big difference between the popular new year's resolution and Jewish shuvah. Shuvah / repentance lasts, new year's resolutions fade.

Shuvah is a plan designed by the Creator of the world, Hashem! IT IS FOR ALL HIS Creation! Shuvah was designed to lead dependent, addicted, subordinate, subservient, uncertain, weak, defenseless, disarmed, exposed, helpless, powerless, susceptible, unprotected, powerless and vulnerable people to FREEDOM. It has absolutely nothing to do with new year's. In simple terms, it is G-d's plan to assist his Creation. During the next four weeks we do our prep work. Yes... Preparation work for deliverance at Pesach!

Well, dear reader, we are here now. We are standing in the front of our house, our spiritual house, the Mishkon, and our physical house that we reside in. It is days before Pesach begins. We are challenged to remove the Chometz, the leaven, the sin from our houses. And again it is interesting that at this time of the year the world's residents who turned over a new leaf on New Year's are now preparing to do "spring cleaning."

The point to this is that the months, weeks and days leading up to Pesach, the Festival of Freedom, are for removing the molecules and particles of chometz from our spiritual Mishkon and from our physical home. It is like a preemptive strike against sin. It is the call to be refreshed by Torah observance. It is the spiritual time for release from the shackles of any addiction, habit or problem. This is the time of freedom. We clean our houses! We rid ourselves of chometz! We do shuvah! We experience the Festival of Freedom! We tear down the walls infested with the eruptions of tzora'as and we replace them with walls free from sin. This is our responsibility, this is our obligation as Jews as we journey towards Pesach.

Wishing you the best,

Dr. Akiva G. Belk

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