In this past weeks parsha, Tazria-Metzorah, we read about tzora'as and what happened when someone spoke lashon hara.I want to share the following lessons with you.
Tzora'as didn't start off on the skin. At first, it went onto the person's house, then their clothing and then their skin.
We see from this that Hashem has rachmanus on a person. When He wants to wake someone up to do teshuva, He starts with something a little further away. If the person doesn't take the message, then He will come with a message closer to home.
Wake up calls aren't easy. We are put into this world to become better people and improve our middos. Let us try to take messages to change for the better from things going on around us that are further away...because unfortunately nowadays there are plenty of messages we can take by looking at the things going on around us...before it gets closer to home.
We also see from this that externals are not so important. What matters is not a fancy house or clothes but how you elevate what you have and do mitzvos with them.
It used to bother me (and it still does, to some extent) when I'd see mothers walking around looking like shlumps. It is no mitzvah to look like you just rolled out of bed and are having such a hard time coping with your little children. Yes, it's a challenge to take care of these little ones. But it's a gift. It's not always easy but which mother would ever give up any one of her children? Yes, it's tiring. Yes, it's a job-and many times it's a hard job. But at the same time, when you walk outside you need to look like a person.
I feel like it is a kiddush Hashem when a mother with little kids looks put together. People look. And people talk. Whether you like it or not people do pass judgement when they see you-and when they see someone who looks like she has it all going good and fine it is a simple kiddush Hashem.
Some people think a kiddush Hashem is only around non-Jews but that's not true. Every person walking down the street is a representation of our nation. Jewish people are looking too-and when they see you, they should feel lucky to be part of a nation like ours, not embarrassed or ashamed.
I was recently in a kiddie gym in Lakewood. When I saw the way the entrance fee worked, I said to myself, only in Lakewood can you see something so nice. There was a little pushka kind of box right inside the room with a sign on it. I took a picture of the sign because I was so in awe when I saw it. It said: "If paying by credit card please put the credit card number, exp number, number of children that played, phone number and name on card in the box..." There was no one there collecting the money or checking if each person who came in paid. There was trust. Because we are all part of the Jewish nation. It made me feel so special and so lucky to be part of a nation like ours! And when I watched each of the parents come in and stick the right amount of money into the little pushka for their kids, it gave me that feeling all over again.
Who ever thought a kiddush Hashem could be that simple?
Yes, doing the right thing, dressing in a way that is respectable, walking outside with a cheerful demeanor...all these things make people look at Jewish people with a positive light. And that is how you can elevate externals to a higher level.