Tazriah – Why Should I Suffer?
When I was a very young child my cousin, who was only a bit younger than me, was run over by a school bus and killed. He was a young, innocent child whose entire sin was to chase after his hat that had blown away. He was my pal. We had a mutual imaginary friend who we played with. Since we are Kohanim it could not have even been entertained whether I would attend the funeral. For a while I was plagued with nightmares of his coming back to life.
Some said that such sufferings happen because of Chilul Shabbat – desecrating the Shabbat. This tidbit of information came from the more religiously observant people in the family and learned people who were always around. This, of course, frightened my young mind because we were not very observant ourselves.
Our Perasha discusses the laws of Leprosy. There are three different types of Leprosy. The first type is a terrible skin disorder. A person suffering from Leprosy is thrown out of town and must live in the
wilderness with criminals and social misfits. (see Four Lepers) The second type of Leprosy attacks a person’s clothing. The article is burned. The final type of Leprosy attacks one’s house. The house might be destroyed.
Our Rabbis of Blessed Memory have taught us:
The Holy One Blessed be He finds it difficult to raise his hands
against a man. First he gives man a warning by damaging his house with a leprous growth. If the man repents it is nice otherwise G-d then damages his clothing. If the man repents it is nice otherwise G-d damages his skin. (Tanchuma Yashan – Tazriah 14)
However, It often happens that a person who seems to be righteous is “damaged” by G-d. Additionally, many very nasty people seem to live carefree lives.
Divine laws of justice might have had me crushed under the wheels of a school bus and my cousin philosophizing about it.
The question of justice in the world and of “Why Do Bad Things happen to Good People?” is at least as ancient as Judaism itself.
The Book of Iyov is very long and primarily discusses this subject: Iyov was a very wealthy man with children and flocks and all that. He was a very righteous person. Despite his righteousness G-d allowed The Persecutor to take away his wealth, kill his sons and to give him leprosy. In his suffering he considered his past actions to be completely righteous. Therefore, G-d had no reason to punish him. He questioned whether there was justice behind G-d’s actions.