In the Haftorah portion attached to Metzora the thematic link of ‎the skin afflictions caused by sin, in particular the sin of lashon ‎hara (gossip, slander) is carried forward and developed into a ‎real life event .Four leprous men star during a time when famine ‎had engulfed Samaria and they in turn bring about a turning ‎point in the conflict with the Syrian army. The critical issue ‎though here is what the Syrian army HEARS (here the noise of ‎chariots and horses approaching). What they heard and listened ‎to had an effect upon them that in this case caused them to up ‎and flee. What had entered their heads through the ears caused ‎a reaction; in this case it stirred up fear.‎

What if the Israelites had heard it instead? Would they have not ‎possibly concluded that deliverance had come from a foreign ‎army, riding to their rescue? Same sound, same aural input, ‎different result. Whatever we hear effects us and causes us to ‎interpret situations for good or evil, and if gossip is involved then ‎tragedy can occur. What goes in has an effect. The malaise is ‎precisely this: the seeds of harm and damage placed inside of ‎you that go on to bear fruit to your own spiritual harm. And so of ‎course the first question comes: what voices are you listening ‎to? Do you listen to what G-d is saying through His revealed ‎Words of Life, developing a sensitivity to hear the small voice in ‎life’s situations, or is the clamour of voices, either of the world or ‎other forms of Judaism demanding attention that fill your mind ‎and brain, affecting you and steering you? Do you listen to ‎words that can bring harm to you, maybe superficial chit chat ‎and gossip? ‎

Sadly it is not only words that go in and harm and affect us, ‎causing a deeper malaise. In the prelude to this Syrian siege ‎something else happened that also speaks powerfully to this ‎theme. In 2 Ki 6:8-17 the attack on the man of G-d Elisha was ‎overwhelming in terms of human numbers and strength. The ‎Syrians knew what they were dealing with, and it wasn’t just the ‎power of a man! They put on all this military show to silence the ‎Prophet who was able to hear from G-d and thus stop him from ‎sharing info about the troop movements of the Syrians. The ‎servant of Elisha is panicked by the visible onslaught and ‎numbers. The end has arrived he says, what are we to do? In ‎this case the input is not aural but visible. The input isn’t through ‎the ears but eyes. The result however is the same. What goes in ‎affects you. What happens around you, whether you see it or ‎hear it, what you experience day after day HAS and will have an ‎effect on you. It can erode you, wear you down by constant ‎attrition and leave you empty, drifting and rootless. Elisha prays ‎that the servant will ‘see’ what is true, what is the real reality ‎behind the visible picture presenting itself as fact. In fact, we ‎could say he prayed for his eyes to be opened, or to put it ‎another way, that he would see in faith. It comes back to the ‎inputs again and what we choose to believe, accept and uphold. ‎Words spoken that drag you down. Situations you see that crush ‎you. People who promise the earth and never deliver, maybe ‎even leaders who you’ve trusted and relied upon for a long time ‎who you discover have abused that role and position. Yes, in all ‎this we see the desperate unfaithfulness of man pitied against ‎our attempts to cling on in faith to what G-d has said regardless. ‎All these inputs can cause a reaction and have an effect upon ‎us. I believe Elisha would pray for us, Lord open their eyes that ‎they may see. May we once more cry out for that faith to see ‎what G-d is saying not what events appear to be saying. May we ‎fight against that malaise that drags down and leaves us wrung ‎out spiritually and almost unable to respond to His gentle and ‎loving hand upon us. We have a strong need as people of faith ‎to know G-d and what He says at all times, to know the truth and ‎not let ourselves be knocked. By faith we walk, and not by sight ‎or hearing.‎

Parashat Metzora