In Tazria/Mezora, we find the Jews still in desert. Land of Canaan a distant promise. This message is communicated to Moses and Aaron:
“When you enter the land of Canaan, which I give to you for a possession, and I put the plague of leprosy in a house of your possession, then….” Followed by a detailed procedure on how matter to be handled.
Well–this is certainly something for them to look forward to! A wonderful bonus: Condos by the sea, complete with lathe, plaster and plague. And it doesn’t say that they will find leprosy in houses as result of dampness or age, but God says: I put it there.
For what possible purpose? What is even more fascinating is that Rashi suggests that this was “good news.” What was so good about it?
Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai in Midrash Rabba: “When the Canaanites heard Israelites were approaching, they hid valuable treasures in the walls of the houses.”
God then has Israelites pulling walls down, ostensibly to rid them of plague, but then finding treasures, and this will be the good news.
To me, the idea of the Israelites tearing down walls and discovering hidden treasures suggests an important lesson. What treasures are hiding in our walls, to be found if we tear them down? What do we have stored away, or hidden in our drawers, in the garage, or the shelves, that have become lost:
Documents (ketubot, bris and naming certificates, letters of commendation, letters of compassion and concern or inspiration)
An old poem of mother’s
A forgotten handicraft of father’s
A stashed school composition of a child
Art objects, especially Jewish: kiddush cups, candle holders, tzedakah boxes etc.
Or books that have become dusty for lack of use
Maybe it’s time to do a spring cleaning, and bring these objects to the light of day; to find the lost and misplaced treasures in our homes.
-Rabbi David Vorspan, Rabbi-in-Residence