פרשת נשא

Command the Israelites to send out of the camp everyone who has a leprous mark or a male discharge, and all who are ritually defiled by the dead.

A leprous mark צרוע, this is anger, for leprosy is a punishment for evil speech (Talmud Arachin 15b).
Male discharge זב, this is one who is in the throes of his [sexual] desires,
All who are ritually defiled by the dead טמא לנפש, this is depression.

Therefore, the leper is sent from the three camps [of the Mishkan/Tabernacle], for anger has no place in [one of] Israel.
The one with the discharge is only sent from the camp of Levi and the camp of the Shechina/Sanctuary, for being overcome with desire is not fitting for a scholar.
All who are ritually defiled by the dead, they are only removed from the innermost camp of the Shechina, because even scholars sometimes suffer from depression, as it is written (Talmud Taanis 4a), “It is the Torah that inflames him.” And being inflamed is depression. Therefore, he is only removed from the innermost camp, for (Chronicles 16:27), “Strength and gladness in His place.”


To be one of Israel is not necessarily inherited by birth, but rather a state of being one has to achieve. Therefore, if you are angry, if you have lashed out in anger at another, you are not part of Bnei Yisrael, and you have no place amongst God and his people. It is a rejection of the other’s inherent holiness and a denial of God’s presence in all.
However, even the strongest among us can be overcome by our desires. We are still a part of the community and can look to it for support, but a bit of distance can help us rein ourselves in and keep our desires from harming ourselves/one another.
Depression and sadness afflict us all. The purest and holiest things in our lives, that which is supposed to be wholly good, can lead us into darkness. Sometimes we experience things (like death) that are tragedies for no reason. We aren’t punished for being depressed. Rather, we are asked to take a step back from ourselves. I have to ask the difficult questions “Where is the divine in me? Why am I disconnected from my holy inner spark? How do I get in touch with what is enlivening and joyful and holy in my life?” From there I can begin the process of returning and make His place my place too.


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