My First Car

I was so excited that day, this was the day that I was going to buy my very first car. I had done my homework to find a good deal on a second hand car. I searched online for a good price and I found a dealership two hours away with great offers. Early that morning, I borrowed my father-in-laws car and drove to the dealership.

I took a look at a car – I remember it clearly, it was a Toyota Camry - 2002, and it looked pretty good. Only 30,000 miles, in good condition and I was ready to buy. But I had been advised to take it to a mechanic to inspect it. So I drove to a local mechanic, who hoisted it up with his car jack and inspected the underbelly of the car. Sure enough he found signs of repair to the body of the car. This meant that it had been in a car accident and he couldn’t vouch for the safety of the car. (Somehow this accident hadn’t shown up on the car facts report – and that is another story).

Shocked, I took the car back to the dealership and obviously I didn’t purchase the car. And I was so grateful to the car mechanic who had managed to find problems and blemishes on this car that I didn’t know about, saving me from buying a lemon.

And then I began to think about how different it is with cars than with people. When it came to a car, finding blemishes was a good thing. The mechanic’s job was to find as many real faults in the car as possible, to save me from getting ripped off. But imagine if I had had the same attitude with people. Should I be looking at the people around me looking for all the faults and blemishes that I could find?

This week’s double Torah portion of Tazria-Metzorah talks all about blemishes in people. There is an ancient biblical disfigurement called tzora’as (it doesn’t translate well in English). When someone would discover these blemishes, they would have to go through a regimen of steps to ensure that the problem would be taken care of. This even included being quarantined from the community. But before all that, he had to know whether it was indeed tzora’as or not.

The only person who was qualified to pronounce if this was indeed tzora’as or not, was a Kohen. This meant that even if there was a scholar present, but he wasn’t a Kohen, he wasn’t able to pronounce the defect as tzora’as. And if the only Kohen available was an ignoramus, he would be advised by the scholar what to say; but the Kohen had the final say.  But why? Why does it have to be a Kohen?

In kabbalah we are taught that the Kohen is the epitome of kindness (Kohen ish hachesed). The Kohen is descended from Aharon the high priest and inherits some of the famous traits of kindness that Aharon was known for. The Torah’s message is that when it comes to finding faults in another person, one has to be sure that it is coming from a place of kindness. Only a Kohen who is steeped in kindness has the job of finding blemishes and faults in another human being.

For us regular people, we should be sure to look for the goodness in others. If for whatever reason we must find fault, we should be sure to put on the Kohen’s ‘kindness’ glasses first and be absolutely sure that it is coming from a place of love.

When it comes to cars there is no problem looking for blemishes, for after all if there is a blemish you can fix it or get a new one. But when it comes to people, there is no point looking for blemishes, because there is no perfect human being.

Remember, people aren’t cars, let’s look at people with the positive spin of a loving Kohen.

Shabbat shalom