For the week ending 25 April 2020 / 1 Iyyar 5780

Parshat Metzora

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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The Torah describes the procedure for a metzora (a person afflicted with tzara'at) upon conclusion of his isolation. This process extends for a week and involves korbanot and immersions in the mikveh. Then, a kohen must pronounce the metzora pure. A metzora of limited financial means may substitute lesser offerings for the more expensive animals. Before a kohen diagnoses that a house has tzara'at, household possessions are removed to prevent them from also being declared ritually impure. The tzara'at is removed by smashing and rebuilding that section of the house. If it reappears, the entire building must be razed. The Torah details those bodily secretions that render a person spiritually impure, thereby preventing his contact with holy items, a nd the Torah defines how one regains a state of ritual purity.



"And he shall be brought to the Kohen." (14:3)

When a person speaks lashon hara, it indicates that he has no concept of the power of speech. He considers words to be insignificant in comparison to actions. As the nursery rhyme says, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me."

Nothing could be further from the truth. When a person speaks evil, he awakes a prosecutor in Heaven, not only against the target of his speech, but also against himself. An angel stands by the side of each of us recording our every word. In order to teach those who speak slander the power of just one word, the Torah instructs that the offender be brought to the Kohen. But, even as he is on his way to the Kohen, his body covered with tzara'at for all to see, and until the Kohen actually pronounces the word "Impure!" he is still considered totally pure. Similarly, once he is impure, he cannot return to his former status of purity, even though his disease has healed completely, until the Kohen p ronounces him to be spiritually pure once more. From this, the speaker of lashon hara is taught to reflect on the power of each and every word. For, with one word he can be made an outcast, and with one word he can be redeemed.

  • Based on Ohel Yaakov

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