Midreshet Amit


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By: Rabbi Daniel Goldstein

The Torah introduces the law of Tzaarat of houses with a curious formulation: "When you will come into the land of Canaan that I will give to you for a possession, and I shall put the eruption of tzora'as in the house of the land of your possession.(Vayikra 14:34)" Rashi, noting this writes that "this is a announcement to them that 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." Imrei Shefer was bothered by this comment. Why is Tzaraat thought of as a punishment if the end result will be the discovery of gold? He answers that if Hashem truly wanted to reward us, He would do so in an honorable fashion. Becoming wealth, says Imrei Shefer, through dishonorable means is a form of punishment as well. Perhaps there is another approach.

The process of Tzaraat—first on the home, then the clothing, and then the body—is meant to sensitize the Jew to Hashgacha Pratit, the belief that Hashem is guiding us and communicating to us through what transpires in our world. And of course, the place in the world where that direct relationship between Hashem and Bnei Yisrael is in Eretz Yisrael. Our license to live in Eretz Yisrael is predicated on our living a life infused with such belief. If however, we live in Eretz Yisrael and ignore Hashem, our time in the land will be short.

Why would the Amorites hide gold in their walls? Such action would only make sense if they were planning on returning. In other words, they were betting that Bnei Yisrael would come to Eretz Yisrael, ignore Hashem causing their expulsion. The Amorites would simply come back and retrieve their gold. If indeed, Bnei Yisrael has ignored Hashem's attempts to communicate, they would never have found it. However, if Bnei Yisrael were to seize the greatness of Eretz Yisrael, and follow through on Hashem's communications, not only would they ensure their right to stay in Ereyz Yisrael, but the reward for properly interacting with Hashem would be waiting for them as well.