Torah Weekly - Parshat Metzora

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Parshat Metzora

For the week ending 10 Nissan 5760 / 14 & 15 April 2000

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  • Sticks and Stones
  • Haftara Shabbat Hagodal
  • Night of Guardings
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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 offerings 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, and 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. It shows that 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 lashon hara, but also against himself. An angel with a "tape-recorder" stands by the side of each one of us recording our every word.

    In order to teach those who speak lashon hara 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, until the kohen actually pronounces the word "Impure" he is still considered totally pure. Similarly, he cannot regain his former status, even though his disease has healed completely, until the kohen again pronounces him to be spiritually pure. 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

    Haftara Shabbat Hagadol

    Malachi 3:4-24


    The Shabbat immediately before Pesach is called Shabbat Hagadol -- the Great Shabbat. It commemorates the day in Egypt that the Jews each took a sheep, the Egyptian deity, and tied it to their bedposts, informing the Egyptians that their god was about to become an offering to Hashem. In spite of their fury, the Egyptians were powerless to act, although the Jews did not know this at the time. Rather, they acted out of trust of Hashem and Moshe, His prophet. Thus the Shabbat immediately before the first redemption was a day when the faith of the Jewish People was rewarded with Hashem's protection.


    "Behold! I send you Eliyahu the prophet before the great and awesome day of Hashem." (7:3)

    The night of Pesach is called "A night of guardings," when the Jewish People are guarded from their enemies. "A night of guardings" also implies that this night, the night of Pesach, is "guarded" -- set aside for all time -- as a night on which the final redemption can come. Every year, the night of Pesach has in it the power of redemption, it has the ability to bring forth the actual from the potential. Shabbat also has this ability to express and crystallize the latent power of the week that follows it. Therefore, every Shabbat Hagadol contains the power of the redemption from Egypt, already awakened in this Shabbat is the force of "the great and awesome day of Hashem."


    Written and Compiled by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair
    General Editor: Rabbi Moshe Newman
    Production Design: Michael Treblow

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