by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states: “And the priest shall command to take for him who is to be purified two birds alive and pure, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop.” (Leviticus 14:4)
What lessons about life do we learn from these?
Rashi, the great commentator, cites the Sages that the cedar symbolizes arrogance (a cedar tree is tall and “haughty”). Tzora’at comes from arrogance and the contempt for others which allows him to talk negatively about others.
The Chofetz Chaim commented that someone who speaks against others views himself as above other people and therefore feels that he has a right to say negative things about them. If he were aware of his own faults and limitations, he would not seek out the faults of others.
What is the cure? He should work on humility, which is symbolized by the scarlet that is made from a lowly worm and the use of hyssop which is a small, low bush. (The two live chirping birds are symbolic of the chatter of idle gossip.)
Our lesson: Be aware of one’s own faults and limitations rather than focusing on the faults of others.