By Rabbi Dovid Markel
Interestingly, the name of this week’s parsha is something that has changed throughout history. Although today it is generally referred to as “Parshat Metzorah,” as it is referred to in the Code of Jewish Law, in earlier generations it was referred to as “Parshat Zot Tihiyeh,” which are the first words of the parsha.
What makes this shift stranger, is that the name Zot Tihiyeh seems to be more apropos, as the parsha primarily discusses the purity of the metzorah, not its defilement. Furthermore, it does not seem proper to name a holy chapter in the Torah after the negativity of the leper.
However, it is in this curious shift where the greatest message is brought out.
Throughout life, we are often faced with situations of which on their surface, they seem to be negative and bleak. While we often escape our negative situation and transform our lives for the better, the negativity that we escape does not cease being negative-we merely move past it.
In truth, though, all that happens in this world in not only from G-d but is a veritable expression of Him. As such, literally everything in this world must be the greatest good.
That being said, the fact that the parsha can be called by its seemingly negative name conveys the deepest levels of transformation of negativity.
Not only are we able to move past our negativity or personal darkness we are able to reframe it and give it a new narrative.
Doing so veritably transforms the negativity into goodness as the aphorism goes “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
Indeed, the question of our perspective to suffering, negativity and pain is the long held question that the Jewish People have had about the terrible atrocities of our long and arduous exile.
The ability to view pain and suffering not only as a catalyst for growth – as a darkness that is in service of light – but as the light itself is the very messianic message expressed by the prophet (Yeshayahu 12:1) “And you shall say on that day, “I will thank You, O Lord, for You were wroth with me.”
When we, in our own lives, are able to transform our own negativity and see it as the good that it is essentially is, we are essentially experiencing a microcosm of the messianic era.
While today we do not see it and we are faced with abundant darkness, we will indeed observe this reality in the time of the messianic era, as the verse (Tehillim 139:12) states: “night will shine like day.”
This is ultimately the explanation as to the reason that the Jewish people have changed the manner in which this parsha is referred to. In earlier generations, when the world was far from the redemption, we were unable to see the positive that was embedded in the negativity.
Now, though, as we are closer to the messianic redemption, the world has gone through a paradigm shift, and today we can more clearly see that deep within all our negativity is a spark of goodness.
May we experience the ultimate expression of this goodness with the coming of Moshiach-today!