Weekly Reading Insights: 
Metzora 5765


Overview of the Weekly Reading: Metzora

To be read on 7 Nissan 5765 (April 16)

Torah:Lev.14:1-15:33;  Haftorah: Kings II 7:3-20 (four metzorah men)

Metzora is the 5th Reading out of 10 in Leviticus and 28th overall, and 41st out of 54 in overall length.

Metzora discusses the process of purification for a metzora (one having tzara’as), the poor metzora’s offering, tzara’as on houses, and concludes with laws about male and female discharges which cause impurity and means of attaining purification from these.* tzara’as is a discoloration appearing on skin, hair, garments, and houses, and is sometimes (inaccurately) translated as 'leprosy.'


From the holy Zohar, teachings of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai

And when the souls issue forth [from the treasury of souls in malchut], they emerge as male and female, and after [they have descended to the physical world] each separates and goes its own way.

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From the holy Ari, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of Safed

Of course, every individual has a unique divine soul, which is meant to express itself as his/her distinctive "divine personality" with its own unique contribution to the world's understanding of G-d's presence in the world.

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From the Shelah, Shney Luchot HaBrit by Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz

The message there is that G-d makes purity emerge even out of impurity. [From the "skin", the external aspect of our beings, will eventually come a spiritual benefit; what appeared to be a descent will ultimately be an advantage.]

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"When you will come into the land of Canaan which I give to you for a possession, and I put the plague of tzara'at upon a house." (Lev. 14:34)
Throughout the forty years during which the Jewish people wandered in the desert, the native inhabitants of the land of Canaan, the Edomites, systematically hid their gold and valuables within the walls of their homes so that the conquering Jews would never find them. After the Jews took possession of the land, whenever a house was afflicted with leprosy, Torah law dictated that the walls of the structure be demolished, revealing the great treasures within.
The plague of leprosy itself, therefore, was what led to the discovery of inestimable wealth for the dwelling's inhabitants. Similarly, when Moshiach comes, we will see that the destruction of the First and Second Holy Temples was only for the purpose of revealing a higher good -- the establishment of the Third Holy Temple, which will exist forever.
(Likutei Sichot)


from the Chabad Master series, produced by Rabbi Yosef Marcus for

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org

MOSHIACH THIS WEEK (M:28-65/Metzora)

Why do our Sages describe Mashiach as a "metzora" (one afflicted with a disease resembling leprosy, where blotches form on the skin) and the Holy Temple as "a house afflicted with 'leprosy' "? Since there are blotches of evil in the world that prevent the light of redemption from being manifest, the power of these lights is turned inward and is reflected in the leprous blemishes to be visited on Mashiach and the Temple. Ultimately, however, "the metzora will be purified" and the inner light identified with him will be expressed throughout existence. Then, "the spirit of impurity will be removed from the earth."

[Reprinted with permission from L'Chaim Magazine (www.lchaim.org).]

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:28-65/Metzora)

Chasidut says that on Shabbat Hagadol, the Shabbat before Pesach, we should be happy, because this is when the Almighty initiated the stage immediately preceding the redemption from Egypt. On a different plane, each of us is cleaning out our personal "chametz" and improving ourselves. And all is supposed to be done in haste, as it says, "In haste did our forefathers leave Egypt."

One of the priests' tasks was to determine if a sign on a person, garment, or house was, in fact, tzaraat or if it was pure. Rebbe Michel writes that the priests' involvement is a hint about the tzadikim (perfectly righteous) in each generation, whose purpose it is to direct us toward better paths of teshuva. Similarly, the idea of tzaraat, a physical ailment with a spiritual root that is identified by a priest, exists today in that a tzadik can "see" our sins and can help us fix them. The purification for both tzaraat and our sins is teshuva.

Rebbe Michel goes on to explain that the most important part of teshuva is to stop doing sins and regret our negative actions. We should not fool ourselves. But this is not easy! So too in business, valuable merchandise is not only costly and difficult to obtain, but requires much effort to sell, and profit only comes at the end. However, unlike business where there is always a risk that the deal will sour, teshuva provides a guaranteed profit. Teshuva is the best of all merchandise, because any effort we make is beneficial to us. Is it any wonder that the Torah encourages us to invest in teshuva?

"And then shall the priest command to take for him that is to be cleansed, two birds live and pure, cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop" (Lev. 14:4)
Rebbe Michel phrases the verse to explain the teshuva process: "And then shall the priest command…" is the tzadik who directs us to good. "…To take for him that is to be cleansed…" means that we "take", i.e. pray for ourselves that G-d will help us move in the correct direction.

"birds": the Hebrew word for "bird", "tzipor", can also be read "tzafar", meaning "light"; the two lights that guide us are self-discipline to stop sinning, and the regret we feel.

"…live…": this hints to enthusiasm.

"…pure…": this means that we have no ulterior motive to our actions; we simply want to return to G-d.

"…wood…": the Hebrew word for "wood" is "etz", which is related to the Hebrew word for "advice". We should be loyal to a tzadik, using his advice to carry us through difficulties.

"…cedar…": the Hebrew word for "cedar" is "erez", which comes from the word "raz", the Hebrew word for "secret". All of this process should be private.

"…scarlet…": in Hebrew, this term, "shani tola'at", can be read as "to change the worm". This is the evil inclination that always tries to worm its way into our lives and mess things up.

"…hyssop…": in Hebrew, "hyssop" is "azov", which can also mean "he will emit".

If we do all of this teshuva process, then our evil inclination will be a constant source of blessing for us and for all of the Jewish people. "Azov" also refers to the person who will consistently grow and "emit" blessings and good deeds by training him or herself to always be humble and lowly. This person accredits nothing to himself and instead focuses on what else can be accomplished. Having this attitude gives a person physical and spiritually health, and hastens the redemption.

The final step of the purification process is immersion in a mikva (ritual bath). The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that just as a person is required to immerse his or her whole body, which can include lowering one's head, so too the inner dimension of purification includes humbling ourselves completely by immersing ourselves totally in Torah.

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

P.S. Please also read my weekly Shabbat Law, below.)

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