Hadassah Reich (11th Grade)
In this week’s Parsha, Parshat Tazria, Tzaraat is discussed in detail. The process of diagnosing and treating someone with Tzaraat is very specific. For example, only a Kohen can determine whether someone has Tzaraat and guide them through the purification process. But what happens when a Kohen has Tzaraat? The Mishna states that a Kohen may not confirm his own case of Tzaraat saying, “All blemishes a man can see, except for his own.”
Tzaraat is a consequence of specific sins that divide the community, the staple example being Lashon Harah. The Kohen plays an integral role in helping someone with Tzaraat recognize their sins and help them reconnect with Hashem through the cleansing process. Furthermore, the Darchei Mussar points out that it is much more difficult to acknowledge your own flaws, while it is extremely easy to notice others. As humans, we naturally pick up on other people’s weaknesses while forgiving our own to protect ourselves. This is why even a Kohen cannot confirm their own case of Tzaraat. Now the question is how can we work on ourselves if we’re too blinded to see what we need to work on? Rabbeinu Yona comments on the words “acquire yourself a friend,” in Pirkei Avot, that a friend is someone who can help you follow the Mitzvot properly and will point your mistakes out to you in a productive way. This one solution of bonding with someone to help each other improve is the converse of Lashon Hara. Rather than gossiping about each other, we can look out for one another and work on our flaws together.