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Lemons & Lemonade

Friday, 24 April, 2015 - 1:00 pm

We know how careful the Torah is to talk in a clean and positive language. Instead of referring to nonkosher animals as contaminated, the Torah refers to them as “not pure.”

Why then is this week’s (second) parsha called Metzorah – referring to a person who has been afflicted with a Biblical type of illness similar to leprosy? The metzorah is a person who has fallen to spiritual failure and is condemned to a process of ritual purity. The Talmud teaches that the cause for tzaraas is speaking ill of others (lashon harah). Why should we highlight this person’s failure by calling the entire Torah portion in his name?

Looking at the glass as half-full, rather than half-empty – the Rebbe once offered the following explanation:

When we are faced with challenges, we often despair. Even if we have the courage and wherewithal to overcome the impediments, we still are upset that they exist. We view them as something that needs to be overcome. We must get them out of the way so we can proceed with our lives.

But the Torah views it differently. Chassidus explains that challenges are really opportunities. If G-d did not feel that you could grow from the challenge – He would not have given it to you.

It is a descent strictly for the sake of an ascent.

This means that if we harness the energy within the challenge itself – we have tapped into the energy of the solution and growth. This is similar to a baseball pitcher who winds his hand backwards in order to throw the ball forward, the backward motion is actually contributing to the successful forward motion.

Thus, the name of the parsha is Metzorah – to demonstrate that there is something positive about the challenge itself. Through the challenge we will grow beyond what we were capable of without it.

Throughout our long history we Jews have experienced lots of lemons. The virtue of our people is not that we made lemonade out of lemons. It’s that we recognize that without the lemons we would only have water.

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