“ this week’s parsha is Tzora”
Try to imagine living in G-d’s presence. A world where bread rains down from Heaven, water flows from a dry rock, your local Sanctuary produces daily miracles, and Divine punishment and reward are something you witness rather than just believe in. This “fantasy” state did exist. It occurred when our ancestors roamed the desert.
This week’s Torah portion even tells of a leprous-like malady that afflicted a person with specific spiritual failings. The ritual impurity resulting from this Tzora’as affected not only the individual but also his dwelling. However, if that “spiritually-diseased” person entered another’s home without permission, that domicile would not immediately be contaminated. A period of grace was granted for, “As long as it takes to light a Shabbat candle.” This allowed the unwanted guest to leave and the home to remain unaffected.
Candle-lighting before Shabbat differs from other forms of illuminations. The Shabbat candles bring, “Peace and tranquility to the home.” Other forms of light do not guarantee such harmony. Indeed the very opposite may result. Sometimes subjecting an individual to the merciless glare of objective illumination brings to light uncomplimentary facts or reveals unflattering glimpses into another’s murkier side.
There is a simple lesson here, one that I have personally observed many times. Truly harmonious relationships are built when those involved are viewed by the light of Torah. Other yardsticks measure the benefits of friendship via financial capabilities or attractive looks. These attributes may flash brilliant for a while, but their sparkle eventually loses luster.
Shabbat candles are not only an ancient remedy for a spiritual disease, their potent flames can still illuminate the dark shadows that threaten to engulf the embattled modern Jewish home. Their radiance will illuminate your Shabbat dinner, the rest of the week, and without question, impact the spiritual sensitivities of those doing the lighting.
This concept is not limited to Tzora’as and Shabbat candles per se, any interaction - be it between parent and child, husband and wife, teacher and student, good friends or casual neighbors – can be judged by arbitrary and self-serving goalposts or by Torah’s timeless values. One brings to light someone possibly blocking your way, the other an individual G-d Almighty Himself placed on you path to illuminate a piece of your life that otherwise would have remained dark and unexplored.