Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Gaza Pull Out: Hidden treasures of gold

The New York Times cover picture this morning, was a shot of a group of Israelis dismantling a house in Gaza.

The image brought to mind Leviticus 14:34, where we are told that occasionally "I will place leprosy upon a house in the land of your possession" Stranger still – this phenomenon is described as a gift. The full verse reads: "And the Lord spoke to Moses and to Aaron saying, 'when you come into the Land of Canaan which I give to you as an inheritance and I shall leprosy upon a house in the land of your possession " [Leviticus 14:34]

In what sense is leprosy an "inheritance?" Leprosy is a punishment, a sign that the afflicted person or the residents of the afflicted house have sinned.

Rashi, alert as always to textual maculations, resolves the contradiction this way: It was a happy tiding for them when the plague (of leprosy) came upon (their homes). This is because the Amorite Canaanites had hidden treasures of gold in the walls of their homes during the forty years when Israel was in the desert, and because of the leprous plagues the walls were taken apart and (the treasures) were found (Rashi, Leviticus 14:34).

At first glance, the dismantling of houses in Gaza is a plague. But the Torah teaches that a “treasure of gold” waits for the righteous who take apart their houses as an act of Teshuva and contrition.

In my eyes, the Gaza withdrawl is an act of Teshuva. The nation and the people are repenting for abiding 30 years of Jim Crow conditions in Yesha; and it is my abiding hope that a "treasure of gold" waits for the nation and the people who complete this process.