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Home » Metzora

Mitzorah: Food for Thought for your Dinner Table

Submitted by on April 6, 2008 – 4:21 amNo Comment | 2,497 views

Sunday: Sequence of Portions

The Torah portion we read last week dealt with the affliction of Tzaraas, its symptoms and treatment. The Torah portion we read this week deals with the process that renders a past Metzorah ritually pure. Allegorically these two portions can be viewed as metaphors for the Jewish exile and for the redemption that awaits us in the Messianic Era. The exile is a time of affliction and impurity; maladies that result from spiritual darkness. The Messianic Era will be a time of Divine revelation and spiritual purity. The message is that just as purity results from the patterns of purification established during the time of impurity so will the redemption be granted as a reward for the Mitzvot we perform during the exile. Llikutei Sichos

Monday: Cedar trees and Hyssops

In addition to the Metzorah’s offering on the altar, the ritual of purification entailed wood from a cedar tree, crimson wool, pure living birds (healthy- without injury or other disqualification) and a hyssop. These particular items are symbolic. One of the sins that cause Tzaraas is gossip, as symbolized by live, healthy birds that chatter constantly.  The antidote to gossip is to ensure the purity of one’s words as symbolized by the fact that the birds of atonement were pure. Another sin that causes Tzaraas is arrogance as symbolized by the height of the cedar tree. The antidote to haughtiness is to humble oneself as symbolized by the small hyssop and the tiny worm that produces crimson dye. Rashi

Tuesday:  Faith in Desperate Times

The standard offering brought by the Metzorah was a rather costly affair. A less costly option was therefore provided for the impoverished Metzorah. The Torah introduces the less costly option with what seems a redundant statement, “If he is poor and cannot afford. . .” If the Metzorah is poor then we know that he cannot afford, it need not be spelled out.

Every word in the Torah conveys multiple messages. On an allegorical level the redundant verse teaches a poignant lesson that is eternally relevant. When a person is so poor, as to have reached the point of desperation, and cries out, “I cannot,” I can no longer bear the burden, then G-d intervenes and provides. G-d often waits till we exhaust our every resource and finally acknowledge that we depend on Him alone. Accordingly, the verse reads, “If he is poor and (cries I) cannot . . . (G-d will then provide and ensure that in the future) his hand will afford.” Divrei Yisroel

Wednesday: Hidden Treasures

When Tzaraas afflicted a home, the entire house was demolished. Our ancestors in Israel found this affliction a blessing in disguise. When dismantling their homes they often found hidden treasures buried by their predecessors, the Emorite Tribe, whom they conquered and displaced. The question is, if Tzaraas was a punishment for sin why was the punished party rewarded with finding a hidden treasure?

Those Jews who found these hidden treasures were afflicted with Tzaraas for a particular sin of which they were guilty, but they were otherwise righteous and deserving of finding the hidden treasures. Had they not sinned at all they would have found the treasure without needing to demolish their homes, but because of their sin, their reward came to them through a measure of hardship. From here we see that we must be wary even of those little, white collar, sins even if we are otherwise completely righteous. Every sin is significant in G-d’s eyes just as every Mitzvah is deserving of reward. Chafetz Chayim

Thursday: Human Dignity

The Metzora’s purification involved an offering of three animals, each of which required several Kohanim to handle and inevitably attracted attention in the Holy Temple. The offering of the Zav, whose impurity resulted from physical discharge, involved only birds, which required very few kohanim and were processed quietly. This demonstrates the Torah’s sensitivity to human dignity. The Metzorah’s malady was public, his humiliation was well known in his community, his purification was therefore also performed in a public manner so as to make known that he was purified. The Zav’s malady was a private affair, no one, but his family was aware of it, his purification process was therefore performed quietly so as to avoid undue attention. Meshech Chochmo

Friday: Martyrdom

The Torah delineates the laws of separation that govern the status of a woman whose menstrual flow occurs before her appointed time and continues for many days. The Chassidic masters interpreted this concept in a collective sense. The woman refers to the Jewish soul that was betrothed to G-d at Sinai. The blood of Jewish martyrs, whose lives are cut down before their appointed time, flows for many days. Those who die in sanctification of G-d’s name earn a powerful merit that stands the entire nation in good stead for many years. In fact, this merit is so powerful that it sublimates the seven days – the order of creation – and brings about a state of total purity – the state that will reign with the coming of Moshiach, when G-d and the Jewish people will reunite. This is similar to the law of the menstrual cycle whereby seven days after the conclusion of the menstrual flow, ritual purity commences and husband and wife resume relations. Tiferet Shlomo

Shabbat: Futile Admonishment

Admonishing one who does not care to be admonished often seems an exercise in futility as we despair of impacting change. We must, however, recall that even if our words are not heard today, they might be remembered and have an impact tomorrow. If the desired changed does not occur in the immediate future, perhaps it will in later years. If we follow our inclination and maintain our silence the sinner will never think to repent and might in fact die without ever having repented and at that point, we will be complicit in his or her sin. This is what the Torah implies when it says, “Ensure that the Children of Israel are dissociated from impurity so that they not die in a state of impurity.” Peninim Yekarim

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