“Truth is confirmed by inspection and delay; falsehood by haste and uncertainty.”– Tacitus
The laws of Tzaraat (a spiritual skin disease commonly mistranslated as leprosy) are unusual to say the least. Tzaraat can afflict a person’s body, their clothing or their home. A rule for Tzaraat of the house is that a suspected house must be emptied of all its contents before the Kohen arrives for a final inspection and declares his verdict.
The Ohr Hachayim (Leviticus 14:36) wonders why the procedure involves the arduous task of completely emptying ones home, when there is a possibility that the suspected Tzaraat house may not be truly infected. Even if the Kohen does decide during the final inspection that the house is indeed afflicted with this spiritual disease, there is still some time, before he leaves the premises and declares the verdict, to remove their belongings.
The Ohr Hachayim explains that the Torah is concerned for the person’s possessions. If the Tzaraat suspect waits until the last minute and the ruling is that the house is infected he will be rushed to clear his stuff. In his haste he will forget some of his possessions, incurring a loss, as possessions that remain in the house will then be considered contaminated and some of them will not be salvageable.
The Torah prefers that the suspect clear his belongings calmly and without undue time pressure. That way there is a greater likelihood that he will do a more thorough and comprehensive job as opposed to a last-minute whirlwind half-mad effort that is sure to forget important items.
May we know what things to do quickly and which ones to do calmly – and do them.
To Yona Benscher on his Bar-Mitzvah. His pace of Torah reading was just right.