In This week’s Torah portion ‘Tazria’ the Midrash Tanchuma brings down a story about a Cohen who would look at ‘negaim’ the blemishes of Tzraat, a spiritual ailment that looks like leprosy that G-d sends to people who slander and talk bad of others, ‘lashon hara’. A Cohen has to see the blemish and decide if the person who has it is ritually pure or not according to the laws proscribed in this week’s portion.
This Cohen became poor and wanted to leave the Holy Land to seek a livelihood. He called over his wife and said ‘I see the blemishes of tzaraat and it’s hard for me to leave the people. Allow me to teach you how to identify the types of tzaraat blemishes so you can help them in my absence. Each hair has its own well G-d created for it that it drinks from. When that well dries up the hair gets harmed (one of the signs of tzaraat).”
His wife commented on his words; “Listen to what you just told me! If each and every hair has its own well created by G-d, you who are a human full of many hairs plus children who are dependent on you isn’t it obvious that G-d has a well of livelihood prepared for you right here! And she convinced him not to leave the holy land.
A man who was a student of Rabbi Israel of Tchortkov told Rabbi Shmuel Halperin told him the following story. ‘I lived in Vienna in the early 1900’s and earning a livelihood was very difficult for me so I organized to go to America where I heard it would be easier to earn a living. The spiritual situation there was very abysmal for Jewish life but I thought I would make money quickly. I bought a ticket to the boat and a few days before the voyage I went to get blessings from Rabbi Israel of Tchortkov as I was advised by my family and friends.”
“I visited the Rabbi and told him of my intentions and he happily exclaimed: “You’re going to America? I’ve been waiting a while for someone who is going to America!” “You have?” I asked. “Yes!” He exclaimed, “I want you to send regard to the American G-d!” Confused, I asked back: But isn’t he the Same G-d everywhere? His Honor fills the whole universe?”
“Really? Rabbi Israel asked back. “It’s really the same G-d both here and there?” and I answered with certainty, “of course!!” Rabbi Israel asked back, “if that’s the case why should you travel far away? G-d that can provide for you there can’t do it here?”
“His words entered my heart and I cancelled my ticket to ride on the Titanic. We all know what happened to the ship on her maiden voyage. Rabbi Israel of Tchortkov saved my life.”
Story courtesy of Dirshu