In this week’s Torah reading we have the description of afflictions which may beset man, the examinations by the kohen, and the laws of the quarantine, if necessary. The Mishnah teaches that “all afflictions one sees, except his own.” No man examines his own afflictions; another must do this. The Torah describes physical disease, but the physical meaning does not exhaust the implications of these laws. The Mishnah’s teaching is especially apt.

Afflictions, moral shortcomings, are obvious and readily condemned in another. We are sensitive to the grossness of another’s poor manners, repelled by arrogance, shocked by stinginess, dismayed by that No fault escapes detection and forthright denunciation. “All afflictions man sees . . .”fellow’s insufferable complacency. We are struck with the full force of the repulsiveness of his poor character traits and moral deficiencies. Our clarity of vision, our objectivity, our courage and candor in denouncing shortcomings “right to his face” is a source of considerable pride to many of us. No fault escapes detection and forthright denunciation. “All afflictions man sees . . .”

But must we carry the burden of constantly correcting everyone’s failings on our shoulders? Will we be forgiven if we ignore others’ afflictions for a while as we examine our own? May our spiritual ministrations be directed toward ourselves, just for a while? This selfishness may be exercised with impunity. Let’s be selfless, if we must, in more mundane affairs.