skin, clothing, house-walls, what?

What is the meaning of a sickness that affects a house? Tzara’at, the strange condition which we often erroneously translate as leprosy, affects human skin, clothing and dwellings, but only of the houses in the Land of Israel.
The midrash tells us that this was a way to discover treasures left behind by the Canaanites. When spots appeared on the walls, at times, the house had to be destroyed, revealing gold and silver, jewelry and other goods. Others tell us that it was intended as a motivator for generosity. Suppose we knew that our house might sprout “stuff” if we behave dishonestly, hoard things that are not ours, speak badly about others etc, perhaps that would encourage us to make sure we share more with others, whether it is our stuff, space or qualities.
It’s 5 minutes to Shabbat after a long week, and I’m reading bits and pieces here and there. In spite of the midrashim – in fact, davka because they get so fantastical – I’m deeply bothered by this and struggling to find a connection. It’s so strange that a house can get sick! Then I remember, we did have a “house” that got sick, and we call its loss “churban habayit“, the destruction of our home, referring to the Temple. So maybe, rather than viewing this as an ancient, irrelevant nonsense, perhaps these three elements, skin, clothing and house-walls, all stand for various layers that cover us, layers of our outside. We might think that Torah is only about inside, how to “feel” good, how to be a good person “internally”, but perhaps this is not so.
The kabalah speaks about the idea of light and vessels to capture this light. Especially in this season of sfirat ha’omer, the count of the days between Pesach and Shavuot, we look at how we prepare ourselves to receive the Torah. Maybe this reading is trying to tell us that while there is light inside us, being all created in G-d’s image, we need a vessel to hold hat light, and to share it with those around us.

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