Parashat Tazria-Mesora: The Way to Ruin Your Children’s Future
The Haftara read on Shabbat Parashat Tazria-Mesora is taken from the Book of Melachim II (7), and tells the story of four Mesoraim – people stricken with the Sara’at skin infection, which made them impure and required them to reside outside their city. These Mesoraim were outside the city of Shomron during a period of siege, and the story goes on to tell how they discovered the great miracle that G-d performed to rescue the city.
Our Sages identify these four men as Gehazi and his three sons. Gehazi was the disciple and personal attendant of the prophet Elisha, and he was stricken with Sara’at for a grave sin which he committed. As we read earlier in Melachim II (5; this section is read as the Haftara when Parashat Tazria is read by itself), Elisha miraculously cured the Sara’at of the gentile general Na’aman, who then offered to pay the prophet a huge reward. Elisha refused to accept any payment, but after Na’aman left, Gehazi ran after him and falsely told him that Elisha changed his mind. Gehazi’s act of greed and deceit was prophetically revealed to Elisha, who decreed that Gehazi and his children would be stricken with Sara’at. These were the three afflicted men who were residing outside the city of Shomron during the siege.
The question arises, why were Gehazi’s children punished? Why did they suffer from Sara’at because of the sin their father committed?
Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky (1891-1986) once asked, why is the Jewish Nation not producing great Torah sages? There are so many children enrolled in Yeshivot studying Torah at a high level. Why are they not becoming outstanding scholars? He explained that the reason is because of the lunch the children are eating. When the schools send the parents the applications for government subsidies for their children’s lunch, the parents give false information about their income in order to qualify for the discounts. Their children thus end up going to yeshiva and eating stolen food for lunch. And a child eating stolen food in yeshiva will never grow to become a great scholar.
This explains why Gehazi’s children were stricken with Sara’at like him. He was greedy and sought to acquire wealth through dishonesty. When a person lives this way, he ends up raising his children with stolen money. This has a grave effect on their inner beings, and they, too, become sinners.
People who deal dishonestly in business or in conducting their financial affairs justify their wrongdoing by claiming that they are concerned about their children’s future. The truth is, however, that dishonesty is the way to destroy one’s children’s future. We ruin our children’s prospects for greatness if we raise and support them, and pay their Yeshiva tuition, with ill-begotten gains. The best way to care for our children’s future is by living as honest, upstanding, observant Jews, as the Torah tells us to live, and trusting that Hashem will care for us and our families.