I remember when I finished my first round of tests. The neurologist gave me his preliminary findings: “You have bulbar ALS.”

I had no idea what it meant. He explained the severity to me and said he was going to refer me to an ALS specialist.

I was there alone.

Walking out of his office into the empty hallway, I broke down in a fit of bitter tears. After I composed myself, I headed out of the building.

Stepping out, the first thing I witnessed was a young man falling to the ground having a seizure. I ran to help him. At that moment, it dawned upon me that there is still much in store for me.

I decided that regardless of the outcome of any future tests, I would remain positive, and find ways to fill life with meaning and purpose. This has made my life and the lives of those around me happier and far more fulfilling.

In the portion of Metzora, we learn about the laws of a metzora, one who contracted a spiritual affliction called tzaraat.

The previous portion, Tazria, told all the laws of diagnosing and quarantining the metzora. The portion of Metzora tells of the process of purification that he or she would undergo to re-enter the Jewish camp.

The purification process starts with the words “This is the Torah of the metzora.”

Looking back to the laws of diagnosing and quarantining, there is no such preface. Wouldn’t it have made sense to say “This is the Torah of the metzora” at the start of the laws of the metzora? Why wait until the purification process?

The real question is: What do you see when you meet a metzora? Do you focus on the ailment or on the solution? How does the metzora view himself? Does he see himself as an outcast, or as a person who was granted the opportunity to search his ways in solitude and refine himself to have a more meaningful existence?

The Torah says “This is the Torah of the metzora” by the purification and re-entry. The focus needs to be on the positive.

It is natural for us to focus on the negative. When our children or students misbehave or when life hands us a devastating blow, it is easy to focus on what’s wrong. To harp on the child’s punishment or to feel, “Oh, how miserable my life is!”

Of course, the child needs to be dealt with appropriately, and the devastation hurts. Just as the metzora needs to be quarantined, expressing the hurt and sadness is necessary. These steps may be important, but they need to ultimately be trumped by positive purposeful thinking and action.

We all suffer hardships and pain. It’s what we do next that makes the difference.

This is the Torah of the metzora.