Seeking the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
כי תבאו אל ארץ כנען אשר אני נתן לכם לאחוזה ונתתי נגע צרעת בבית ארץ אחוזתכם
“The One Who made miracles upon our fathers, and from Egypt redeemed them, He shall redeem us and return sons to their boundaries…” (Declaration of the New Month)
This month, Nissan, the “leader of all months”, by its very name hints (‘nes’) to the miraculous nature of this month – “in Nissan our fathers were redeemed, and in Nissan we are bound to be redeemed.” The term for miracle, ‘nes’, literally means to ‘lift up’ especially in context of a banner, a fact that highlights the ‘lifting up’ of our consciousness to God’s constant Providence upon us when a ‘miracle’ occurs.
Interestingly, we find that the word for miracle, ‘nes’, is linked, not only by lettering but also via juxtaposition, to the term for trial, ‘nisayon’ in Pirkei Avos (ch. 5), which determines that 10 trials were laid upon Avraham, and just afterwards states that 10 miracles occurred to our ancestors, then stating that 10 trials our ancestors ‘tried’ God, and finally stating that 10 miracles occurred upon our ancestors in the Bais HaMikdash. This connection of concepts is found in the Torah as well in many places. One example is the ‘lifting up’ of the copper snake on the banner, ‘nes’, at the trial of the ‘biting snakes’ upon our ancestors in the Widerness, so that when those bitten gazed upon this banner they were miraculously cured. On this incident and others, our Sages explain that it is not the ‘copper snake’ that cures, but rather the ‘lifting up’ of one’s sight to the heavens in faith, reminding us that it is God alone who has jurisdiction upon our welfare, and without God’s ruling no being has the power to help or harm us.
On our title quote from this week’s parsha, which states that HaShem will ‘give’ leprosy in the houses of Israel, our Sages explain that indeed leprosy can be seen as ‘a gift’, as exemplified by one who may have leprosy in his house and must destroy a wall in result, thereby finding a valuable treasure hidden many years ago. In this way, the trial, nisayon, is really a miracle, a nes. The truth is that the pathway in turning a trial-nisayon into a miracle-nes is taken by turning the trial into a banner-nes of lifting our consciousness to HaShem and realizing that this trial is a personal message from God to us (it is not recommended to tell others what message you think they are receiving). Once this outlook is taken, one’s consciousness can be completely transformed, even without a ‘miracle-nes’ physically taking place, to ‘miracle-consciousness’, that is to feel bliss in God’s Providence on oneself. With no doubt, this outlook is one of the primary spiritual exercises constantly worked upon by those who serve God truly.
Last year we noted that, halachically speaking, leprosy of houses, which comes as a sign to a Jew to improve (especially in speech), is only applicable in the Land of Israel. This law again highlights the special Divine Providence in the Land of Israel, the ‘Land of Miracles’, where HaShem more clearly ‘communicates’ with us, both in reinforcement of our good and also in ‘telling’ us what we need to improve. Within the Holy Land, this consciousness is especially potent in ‘the City of the Patriarchs’, “who cleaved their thoughts to the Divine Will… and thus nullified all (external) forces in the world… and therefore they merited to great miracles…” (Nefesh HaHaim) May we merit too…
Sources: : Lev. 14, 34 and Rashi, Rambam Tumat Tzaraat 14, 11, Nefesh HaHaim 3, 13