We all know about the physical disease caused by spiritual misdeed that is written about in the Torah this week, Tzaaras. The Gemara in Arachin (16a) gives us a few examples of sins that cause Tzaaras, most famously Lashon Hara, murder, theft, and even being a miser. Yet why do people not have Tzaaras these days? Because strangely, only a really holy person can get Tzaaras and today we are just not on the level to get a spiritual disease… Back then, the spark of Holiness that lay within each of us would not be able to bear the pain of sin that a person committed and this spark of holiness would attempt to leave his body, causing Tzaaras. So Tzaaras is only a punishment for those who are really really holy. The regular people don’t get it. So, why did Klal Yisrael become fearful of Tzaras? As the Midrash (Vayikra Rabbah 15:4) says, “When Klal Yisrael heard about the Parsha of Tzaaras, they became afraid. Moshe calmed them, saying: ‘Don’t be afraid. The other nations of the world may be afraid, but you should eat, drink, and rejoice for it is written ‘Many will harm the wicked but one who trusts in God will be surrounded by love.’(Tehillim 32:10)”
There are two ways that we can become inspired to serve Hashem, kind of like good cop – bad cop, there is the hard way, and the easy way. Through both we come to the same result, a better relationship and attachment to God. Yet the paths are obviously very different. The Hard way is when God punishes with plagues, with suffering, with bad times. The struggle reminds us that there is a supreme being that runs the universe out of our control, He Who demands that we must do the right thing. There are plenty of people that find God through all the troubles they are going through, bringing them to Teshuvah, yet it is very painful.
The other way is through love. This path enlightens us and brings us to do Teshuvah, for with this path we perceive the real meaning of our existence – our mission in life. We as Jews have so many places we can gain spiritual inspiration from; Shabbos, Holidays, Tzitzis, Prayer, or a kumzitz, the back of a herring container, whatever works for you. These spiritually uplifting outlets that bring us to the path of love from Hashem are exclusive to the Jewish people – non Jews don’t have Shabbos, they don’t have holy songs, they don’t have Pesach Purim or Channukah. Therefore, they have no input of spirituality in their day to day lives. They cannot benefit from the Joy of Shabbos, therefore if God wants a non-Jewish nation to repent and come close to Him he can only awaken them the hard way, because, there is no easy way for them. That is the reason for the nations to “be afraid”. How amazingly blessed are we from Hashem that we have so many opportunities to come close to Him from a place of love and happiness, not a place of suffering and sadness. A Jew who is willing to observe the Torah and be joyous keeping Shabbos, Purim, Pesach, Sukkos, he will receive the same results as one who finds God through suffering – but not through suffering – through love, as Moshe Rabeinu said, “you should eat, drink, and rejoice” for that is the key to coming closer to Hashem – through happiness and love. As the Gemara in Yoma (86a) tells us: a person who repents out of love – all of his sins are turned to mitzvos. And then we will be “surrounded by love”.