Dear Friend,

With all its perks regarding connection and community, social media sometimes falls into a vicious cycle of hot takes and Internet shaming.

Controversies great or small, real or imagined, simmer and boil over online. A single tweet or comment can suddenly draw down a storm of righteous online indignation and social-media vigilantism. The flaws and failings of others are tried in the court of public opinion.

This week’s Torah portion discusses the responsibility of the kohen to declare a person either afflicted or cured of tzaraat, a biblical malady that brought ritual impurity and seclusion.

Why, asked the Rebbe, was only a kohen qualified to declare that a person is afflicted by tzaraat?

One of the kohen’s duties is to bless the Jewish people, to bring peace to others. Only someone whose very essence is love can determine that someone else is lacking.

When we rush to push a person away—even if we feel that we are eminently qualified to judge them—we must stop and look at the source of this conviction. Are we coming from a place of pure love like the kohen?

What’s more, the kohen did not just declare impurity of tzaraat but also brought about its cure. If we see someone that is “on the outside,” it is our job to labor with love to make sure they find their way in.

Mordechai Lightstone,
on behalf of the Editorial Team