It Works: Na’aman V
Continued from an unedited transcript: So we continue in verse 8, ‘and when Elisha the man of G-d heard that the King of Israel had torn his clothes,’ it doesn’t say when he heard that Naaman had come, ‘when he heard that the king had torn his clothes,’ meaning that he understands the issue that Yehoram has, he understands that Yehoram has created this situation which he cannot do anything.
Again, he doesn’t have the simplicity of this girl who says, a person is sick, they go to a navi. Yehoram, the king of the 10 tribes, doesn’t have the clarity to know you send the issue to the navi, you just put it there, such and such happened. You don’t even have to ask the navi heal the Naaman, just send a copy of the letter to the navi. Let the navi deal with it. The same way Naaman dealt with the king.
So every step of this story is pointing out different things that we do and different things that Yehoram could have done and different things that Naaman could have done. He could have paid more attention to this girl and taken it more seriously. Only one girl from these raiding parties?
So ‘Elisha the man of G-d heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent to the king saying, why did you tear your clothes? Let Naaman come to me now and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel.’ That’s all he wants, he doesn’t say that he will know that there is G-d, he will know that there is a prophet in Israel as opposed to you, Yehoram, who obviously does not know that there is a prophet in Israel.
You may know but you don’t know what it is that a navi can do. You don’t know what it is that a navi is. You see a navi as a threat to your power, you see a navi as a reflection of your inadequacies, you see a navi as a rebuke to what you could be doing better. A navi is a navi. If you have a problem, come to me, why are you tearing your clothes?
‘So Naaman came with his horses and chariot and stood at the entrance of Elisha’s house,’ what’s missing? Does it say the king of Israel sent him to the prophet or does it say Naaman went?
Right. What did not happen?
That the king told him to go.
Right. You don’t find that the king told him to. Because he couldn’t deal with it. He didn’t know how to handle this.
So Naaman comes up with his horses and chariot and he is at the entrance of Elisha’s house, but Elisha wont go outside. ‘Elisha sent him a messenger saying – Go, bathe seven times in the Jordan River and your normal flesh will come back and you will become cleansed.’ Wow, this is a navi! He doesn’t come out to greet me, the chief of staff of the armies of Aram, he wants me to take a bath. Naaman was enraged and he left.
And he said ‘behold, I thought you would come out to me, I thought he would stand up and call out in the name of Hashem, his G-d and wave his hands and swing the chicken over his head seven times backwards and forwards and the metzora would be healed, he sends a messenger and he tells me to take a bath in the Jordan River. Are not Amana and Parpar, the rivers of Damascus better than all the waters of Israel? I will bathe in them and become cleansed. Oh yeah, and you haven’t? You haven’t? Here you are, you want to be healed of your tzoraas and you are making a big deal because the navi didn’t come to the door to greet you? What’s the matter with you? Is this guy sane? Unbelievable. And who is going to suffer from this mistake, from this arrogance.
He is, but we never do this, right?
Right. We never do this. Not at all.
So Naaman turned and he leaves in a fury, wow. Then his servants approached him and spoke to him saying, my father, if the prophet told you to do something super complicated and mysterious, would you not have done it? So surely since he told you only bathe and become cleansed, go and do it. Come on you are saying I could take a bath in Damascus and you are telling me you didn’t take a bath in Damascus. You are saying that if you took a bath in Damascus you would be healed? Yeh, really, look at you, you look really good. Naaman that tzoraas looks really good on you. He won’t do it, no I can go to Damascus and I’m going to take a bath there and I’ll be fine. oh yeh, how are you going to be fine Naaman? This man is not thinking straight, is he any better than Yehoram, the king who tore his clothes.
He is so wrapped up in his dignity and the solution has to be complex. I need you to go out into the field and raise your hands to G-d and start doing all sorts of magical things. You are telling me it’s a simple thing? This is tzoraas baby – I have tried every healer, every doctor, every therapist, every psychotherapist in the world and you are telling me it’s a simple solution? You are crazy man, we need some big time miracle from G-d and big time miracles only happen when you do all sort of complex things and you have to burn ashes and put them under your pillow and go to the mikveh 37 times and then you have to daven 4000 times and fast 97 million days and everything else and then maybe a miracle will happen, right? You are telling me it’s a simple thing, get out of here. We never do that, thank G-d.
That’s why this girl, this girl who is working for Naaman’s wife is so important. She sees it in a very simple way. She doesn’t need the big deals in life. She doesn’t need to think through everything. She is able to see them for what they are. And we ruin so much of our relationship with G-d by making it so complicated. The same way we do with other relationships.
This is yet another aspect of our relationship with G-d, we make it so complicated. Instead of just seeing it for exactly what it is on Rosh Hashana. G-d is our king, G-d is our father, G-d cares about absolutely everything we do, G-d wants us to do well, G-d wants to give us life, G-d wants to give us olam haba, that’s all there is to it. All the other stuff is just complication of a relationship that at it’s core should be very simple.
Do I believe that You care about what I do? Do I believe that You care enough about me to judge me? Do I believe that what I do matters to You? Yes?
Then if it does that’s all I need to think about. That’s all I need to do to prepare for Rosh Hashana. I don’t need to make it complicated. I don’t need to self-destruct the way Yehoram self-destructed.
Well you know I don’t really deserve to speak to the navi, I haven’t been that good.
We don’t need to self-destruct the way Naaman did – what this isn’t complicated enough, I need a super sign from G-d, you know, and I need a big time miracle and I need all sorts of advice and I have to go to all the great mystics and all the great kabbalists and they are going to find a magical solution for me and everything else. Instead of understanding, we have a very simple, good relationship with Hashem. And Hashem loves us passionately.
But the servants are able to get Naaman to come to his senses, so Naaman got off his high horse, so to speak – he descended and immersed himself 7 times in the Jordan as the word of the man of G-d and his flesh was transformed to the flesh of a young boy and he had become cleansed.’ Awesome man, this is incredible, he did it. It worked. He went in and how much faith did he have that it would work before he did it.
Zero, because it wasn’t complex enough, but he went in and he comes out and he’s like a young boy.
Wow, boy is my wife going to be happy, this is great, this is incredible. Right. Wow, this is incredible.
So we can go into Rosh Hashana and go oh my gosh, what is G-d going to prepare for me this year. My life has been full of surprises, let me tell you. Who knows what to expect, who knows what Hashem is going to do. And I don’t really know, Hashem doesn’t actually give me telephone call or send an email, there Simcha Weinberg your judgment this year is, you really were not a good boy last year and this is what is going to happen to you. Or – Dear Simcha Weinberg, we wrote you in the book of life and you are going to win the lottery and everything else. Well, we don’t know. Did this really work, did it not work, who knows. We don’t come out of there with our flesh as fresh as a young child.
But even if we go into Rosh Hashana not exactly believing that all of our sins can be forgiven. We don’t necessarily go into Yom Kippur believing that Hashem purifies us until we are as, in the words of the navi, white as snow. Even if we go in without believing it, it works. And we can of through the process of purification, its not that complicated, its davening, its blowing the shofar, its attaching to what is at the essence and the most simple level of our relationship with G-d, it works. And we have to know it.
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