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Parashah #28 Metzora / Person afflicted with Tzara’at

In Weekly Torah Portions | on April, 02, 2014 | by

Parashah #28 ~ Metzora ~ Person Afflicted With Tzara’at

Torah: Vayikra / Leviticus 14:1 ~ 15:33
Haftarah: M’lakhim Bet / 2nd Kings 7:3 – 20
B’rit Hadashah: Mattityahu / Matthew 9:20 – 26;
Mark 5:24b – 34; Luke 8:42b – 48; Ivrim / Hebrews 13:4


This portion continues with the purification process for the (Meht-zore-ah) Metzora / one afflicted with tzara’at and ends with the purification process for discharges from the flesh.
In one commentary, I found an interesting tidbit concerning the word metzora. The Sages taught the word metzora was derived from a combination of the Hebrew word (moat-zee) motzi which means wellspring or source, and the Hebrew word (rah) ra which means evil. Putting those two words together would indicate metzora means a wellspring or source of evil. As we learned earlier, the word metzora comes from the Hebrew word (zah-rah-aht) tzara’at which has been translated as leprosy. However, the Rabbis moral interpretation of the wellspring of evil was meant to be a reminder. What is the source the evil springs from? It is the tongue!!! Based on this interpretation, anyone who speaks evil is a spiritual metzora! Ya’akov / James, the brother of Yeshua, was very well versed with this interpretation, I am sure! He alludes to it when he compares the tongue to a wellspring in Ya’akov / James 3:10 – 11, “Out of the same mouth come blessing and cursing! Brothers, it isn’t right for things to be this way. A spring doesn’t send both fresh and bitter water from the same opening, does it?”


On the day of his purification, the Metzora is taken to the Cohen / Priest, according to Vayikra / Leviticus 14:2. Then, they go outside the camp for the examination to take place. What I don’t understand is this: I thought the Metzora was to stay outside the camp anyway. So why was he/she brought to the Cohen and then they went outside the camp? I couldn’t, for the life of me, find an answer. Do you know? I guess it’s just another one of those questions I can ask when I see my Father (pah-neem l’ pah-neem) panim l’panim / face to face.


Needless to say, after the initial ritual with the birds, cedar-wood, scarlet yarn and hyssop leaves, it’s a rather lengthy purification process which includes living outside his tent for 7 days, then shaving off ALL his hair, including beard and eyebrows!, of all things!!! Then on the 8th day there is the purification offering, which is no small ordeal.


As I reflected on the purification ritual, I thought of the different ways this process alludes to Yeshua, our Messiah.

• The scarlet wool reminded me of the passage which says, “Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.” (Yesha’yahu / Isaiah 1:18) Wool dyed red, to me, is symbolic of the sacrificial “blood of the lamb”.

• Hyssop was used to apply the blood of the lamb on the doorposts of the houses in (mitz-rah-yeem) Mitzraim / Egypt during the first Pesach / Passover. This reminds me of the Passover of Yeshua’s crucifixion, when the hyssop branch with the sponge of sour wine was lifted to the Master’s mouth.

• The bird killed in the ritual reminds me of the sin offering of HaMashiach / the Messiah and . . .

• The mixture of living water and blood reminds me of the blood and water which flowed from Yeshua’s side when He was pierced by the Roman soldier’s spear. (Yochanan / John 19:34).

• The bird which flies away bearing the uncleanness of the metzora, points to Yeshua, who took our infirmities, our sins and uncleanness and carried them away. To me, it’s exciting to see shadows of our Messiah in the Original Covenant!!!


“Then the Cohen will order two living clean birds be taken for the one to be purified, along with cedar-wood, scarlet yarn and hyssop leaves.” (Vayikra / Leviticus 14:4) It’s interesting these two, very different, plants are used in this process. Each tree couldn’t be more different! However, there is a lesson here for all of us.


Hyssop grows in tufts of stems no larger than a foot and a half. Sh’lomo / Solomon spoke of trees, from the cedar which is in Lebanon even to the hyssop which grows on the wall. (M’lakim Alef / 1st Kings 4:33) This puts the hyssop on the opposite end of the spectrum from the cedar. Rashi explains the hyssop plant was used in the purification from tzara’at because it is a lowly, humble plant and reminds the penitent gossiper he should have a lowly, humble spirit. So why did the cleansing require cedar wood?


The Sages believed the purification ceremony used cedar-wood because the cedar, as a tall and lofty tree, represents the haughty spirit. The metaphor of a cedar as a haughty person comes from the words of the prophet Yesha’yahu / Isaiah. “Yes, Yehovah Tzva’ot has a day in store for all who are proud and lofty, for all who are lifted high to be humiliated; for all cedars of the L’vanon that are high and lifted up . . .” (Yesha’yahu / Isaiah 2:12 – 13)


A haughty spirit finds it difficult to tolerate other people’s character flaws. The haughty person fails to recognize his own shortcomings. Instead, he focuses on the shortcomings of others. Most often, when we speak ill of others, we are defending our own pride. This reminds me of a quote by Josh Billings: “A man never discloses his own character so clearly as when he describes another’s.” People elevate themselves by stepping on other people. By putting someone else down, some think they are lifting themselves up. Mishlei / Proverbs contrast two kinds of people: a person who guards his words and a person with a haughty spirit. “Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps himself out of trouble. “Scoffer” is what you call a proud, insolent person who acts with overweening conceit.” (Mishlei / Proverbs 21:23 – 24)


Tehillim / Psalms also equates haughtiness with evil speech and warns The Almighty will punish the slanderer and does not endure haughtiness. “If someone slanders another in secret, I will cut him off. Haughty eyes and proud hearts I cannot abide.” (Tehillim / Psalms 101:5)


The big, tall, haughty cedar is the most likely tree in the forest to be cut down. Remember the saying? The bigger they are, they harder they fall. “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before stumbling.” (Mishlei / Proverbs 16:18) The Tanakh / Bible says The Almighty’s eyes are on the haughty to bring them low” (Sh’mu’el Bet / 2nd Samuel 22:28). If we attempt to elevate ourselves by stepping on others, we inevitably lower ourselves. This is part of what Yeshua meant when He taught: If a man lifts himself up he will be humbled, but if he humbles himself he will be lifted up.


Imagine yourself in the following scenario. You are at the Sabbath table with friends from your community when your friends raise the topic of a person known to be your adversary. Your friends begin to criticize your adversary. How do you respond? It feels good to have your friends on your side, and the temptation is to join them in pointing out your adversary’s flaws. It makes you look better. Or does it??? The higher path is to come to the defense of the person and quiet the criticisms. When you show this kind of integrity and humility, it not only makes you look better, it makes you better.


To be honest with you, I’m not sure I am able to connect all the dots in this portion. However, at the risk of missing some things, there is one part which is repeated from Vayikra / Leviticus 14:11 – 20, specifically verses 14, 17 and 18, which we need to cover.


Verse 14 “The Cohen / Priest is to take some of the blood of the guilt offering and put it on the tip of the right ear of the person being purified, on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot.”


Verses 17 and 18 state, “Then the Cohen is to put some of the remaining oil, in his hand, on the tip of the right ear of the person being purified, on the thumb of his right hand, on the big toe of his right foot and on the blood of the guilt offering. Finally, the Cohen is to put the rest of the oil in his hand on the head of the person being purified; and the Cohen will make atonement for him before Yehovah.


Do you remember in Sh’mot / Exodus 29:20, when we saw the same “putting of the blood” on the tip of the right ear, the thumb of the right hand, and the great toe of the right foot of Aharon and his sons when they were consecrated into the priesthood?


Sh’mot / Exodus 19:5 and 6 reveals to us our calling as priests: “5 Now if you will pay careful attention to what I say and keep my covenant, then you will be my (sehg-you-lah) segullah / own treasure from among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; 6 And you will be a kingdom of cohanim / priests for me, a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the children of Israel.”


This is not merely a Torah concept, but is also found in the B’rit Hadashah, as we see in (Kay-fah Ah-lehf) Kefa Alef / 1st Peter 2:9 and 10: “9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood (the King’s cohanim), a holy nation, a peculiar people / segullah; that you should show forth the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light: 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; before you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” Each of us is called to be a priest before Yehovah, and to a lost world.


As we look at the placing of the blood on the three areas of the body, we can also draw some additional conclusions. We are sanctified by the shed blood of Yeshua, and this is pictured in the placing of the blood.

• The blood on the tip of the ear, tells us we need to be careful of what we hear. We are to be sensitive to the voice of The Holy One BUT also we should guard our hearing from what would harm us spiritually. The ear is on the head, and also lets us know our thought life must be sanctified as well. Romans 12:1 and 2 tells us: “1 I exhort you therefore, brothers, in view of God’s mercies, to offer yourselves as a sacrifice, living and set apart for God. This will please Him; it is the logical “Temple worship” for you. 2 In other words, do not let yourselves be conformed to the standards of the (oh-lahm hah-zeh) olam hazeh / this world. Instead, keep letting yourselves be transformed by the renewing of your minds; so you will know what God wants and will agree what He wants is good, satisfying and able to succeed.”

• The blood on the thumb of the right hand represents our work, as well as our recreation. Both of which we do with our hands. We see this principle in Colossians 3:22 – 24: “22 Slaves, obey your human masters in everything, not serving only when they are watching you, to win their favor, but single-heartedly, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever work you do, put yourself into it, as those who are serving, not merely other people but, the Lord. 24 Remember, as your reward, you will receive the inheritance from the Lord. You are slaving for the Lord, for the Messiah.”

• The blood on the great toe of the right foot signifies our walk. This means our manner of life / lifestyle. In Yochanan Alef / 1st John 2:6 we read: “A person who claims to be continuing in union with Him, Yeshua, ought to conduct his life the way He, Yeshua, did.”


As I was turning to the above scripture (1st John 2:6) and THOUGHT I was in the correct place, Chapter 2:6, read: “And he condemned the cities of S’dom/Sodom and ’Amora/Gomorrah, reducing them to ashes and ruin, as a warning to those in the future who would live ungodly lives.” Holy Cow, NO!, Holy Smoke, NO, I don’t mean that either. OY! Yeah, that’s what I meant, OY! Oy Vey!!! What’s this got to do with this portion? A quick look led me to see I was in Kefa Bet / 2nd Peter 2:6 . . . NOT where I was supposed to be so I quickly turned to Yochanan Alef / 1st John 2:6 and proceeded with my typing. As I did, in my spirit, I heard “you did not turn there by accident; I led you there.” I responded verbally with “You did?” so I went back to reread it and I saw the connection my Father wanted me to include. So I am!


Yeshua was Torah observant, He lived in obedience to His Father, therefore our manner of living must also be Torah pursuant, living obediently in such a manner to please our Heavenly Father.


Most every time I get to a point about Yeshua being Torah observant, I remember the WWJD bracelets I used to wear, as well as nearly everyone I knew. At the time I was clueless about being Torah pursuant. Oh sure, I read my Bible and went to church but I wasn’t raised in the Original Covenant. I’m so GLAD to know the Renewed Covenant / New Testament isn’t really new and Yeshua, according to Mattityahu / Matthew 5:17, lived the very things His Father instructed Moshe / Moses. There are reasons our Father gave us the guidelines He did. We are told they are just for the Jews but, in reality, they are beneficial for all who call Him Father.


As a closing thought, for this chapter . . . Do you remember learning or hearing the song “Be careful little ears what you hear”? It seems to me, we, as adults, would do well to remember it too. The words of the verses cover it all . . .

Verse 1
Be careful little eyes what you see
Be careful little eyes what you see
For the Father up above
Is looking down in love
So be carful little eyes, what you see

Verse 2: Be careful little ears what you hear
Verse 3: Be careful little mouth what you speak
Verse 4: Be careful little hands what you do
Verse 5: Be careful little feet where you go

For the Father up above, Is looking down in love
So be careful little . . . , What/where you . . . .


“Then the owner of the house is to come and tell the Cohen, ‘It seems to me there may be an infection in the house.’” (Vayikra / Leviticus 14:35)


These verses (14:35 – 53) describe the ceremonial procedure for diagnosing and cleansing a home where signs of biblical leprosy / tzara’at have appeared on the walls. Mold and mildew are not uncommon on interior walls. It can be a real problem in Israel during the rainy winter season. Mold and mildew, however, do not necessarily constitute biblical leprosy. Not every form of mold and mildew is leprous.


Just as with the individual, the priest was to make an examination and diagnosis of the house. If the priest diagnosed the mildew problem as tzara’at, he declared the home ritually unfit. The procedure for purifying such a house is similar to the procedure for purifying the individual. In both cases, the ritual with the two birds, the cedar-wood, crimson yarn and hyssop are identical. The shaving of the individual’s hair can be compared to the scraping of the plaster from an afflicted house.


The Sages blame tzara’at in a house on the words spoken within the house. Most of our evil speech is uttered within the four walls of our own homes. Our spouses are our confidants as we unburden our hearts, blow off a little steam and lodge complaints about others. This kind of murmuring seems harmless. There are no victims. The words never leave the house, so what’s the problem? Actually, there is a victim and you are it! By indulging in critical speech, you are conditioning yourself to exercise a critical spirit. Day after day you are patterning your mind to concentrate on the shortcomings of others. Moreover, you are poisoning the other members of your household with your bitterness. One could say the very walls of your house absorb the evil spiritual energy you are creating. The entire home becomes defiled. The solution to the problem is to break the habit. Make a pact with those in your home not to speak or tolerate evil speech any longer. Scrape the infected spiritual plaster off the walls and start with a fresh coat of optimism, grace and kindness. See if it doesn’t freshens up the place a bit!


As prophetic symbolism, the house with the “wellspring of evil” may refer to the “House of Israel” OR the “House of Judah”. In each case, removing the outer trappings (plaster) reveals underlying problems (deviation from Torah). Here the teacher of Torah (Cohen / Priest) examines the problem (based on Torah). The parallel seems clear. It is no coincidence; the Father refers to these two groups as “houses”.


In looking for commentaries on this chapter to see how others addressed these matters, I was unable to find very much. Perhaps others are even more uncomfortable addressing bodily emissions than I am. It appears to me, the primary purpose of Chapter 15 was to eliminate defiling of The Tabernacle. This involves uncleanness of a man or a woman, through seminal emission, menstruation or sexual intercourse. Although this deals with human discharges which contaminate to various degrees and may require offerings as part of the purification process, the goal is to no longer be separated and be able to return to Tabernacle/Temple worship.


I remember my mom telling me, when I got married, during my menstrual period / niddah I should refrain from intercourse. I wonder now if she knew it was a biblical command or if it was just “advice” passed down from generation to generation.


During a woman’s niddah, she is tameh, a Hebrew term which has been incorrectly translated as “unclean”. The word tameh has nothing to do with uncleanness. When one is tameh it means the individual has had some contact with death. In the instance of a menstruating woman, it is the death of the ovum. Similarly, when a man has had physical relations, which inevitably involve the death of millions of sperm, he too is tameh. This Biblical tradition shows a great sensitivity to and awareness of the natural life cycle.


These verses indicate even sexual relationship in the marriage bed causes uncleanness and both parties are to bathe themselves in water and will remain unclean until evening (verse 18). You see, being ritually unclean is not always because of sinful behavior. Sex, in the context of marriage, is something The Holy One created and blessed.


However, in most cases today, where uncleanness is manifested, sin is also manifested. We must strive to avoid being unclean. Ivrim / Hebrews 13:4 says “Let marriage be held in respect among all and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.”


Much of Metzora directly deals with sexual relations and ritual uncleanness. Today, many are taught the Law was done away with and, as a result, do not follow the commandments of Scripture concerning sex, which in many cases leads to immorality, fornication and adultery. While bathing, to become ritually clean, may seem nominal, as we follow God’s simple instructions, we learn to be set – apart and not fall into the trap of sinners who have no respect for their bodies.


One commentary spoke of one lady’s personal tradition, which illustrated how the family purity laws can renew a marriage. The woman reported, upon her return from the Mikveh each month, her husband would lovingly place the wedding band back on her finger and say appropriate words to his “bride”.


AS A SIDE NOTE: Mikvehs have been found in medieval Spain, in ancient Italy and in the famed desert outpost of Masada. In fact, the single most decisive element archaeologists use in determining whether or not an unearthed settlement is Jewish is the presence of a Mikveh. This correlates with Halacha (Rabbinic law) which mandates that, even before the town synagogue is built, a Mikveh must first be established.


Let us remember, whether we are married or unmarried, the marriage bed is to be “undefiled”. If we follow the manner which the The Holy One intended, it will remain “undefiled” because His bride will be clean.


Metzora ~ Person Afflicted With Tzara’at
Haftarah: M’lakhim Bet / 2nd Kings 7:3 – 20

Our Haftarah tells about (met-zora-eem) metzora’im / people with tzara’at. However, in the previous Haftarah, Na’aman was Syrian; this time the metzoraim are Jewish men, who interestingly performed a great service for their nation. Initially, according to the Sages, these people displayed a type of selfishness which led to their punishment of tzara’at, but then they decided to put the needs of the people ahead of their own. This is one of my favorite stories from the Tanakh. You can’t help but see Yehovah’s hand at work in all of this. Praise the Almighty!!!


Samaria was going through a terrible famine with extremely inflated prices for the little bit of food available. It is told mothers were killing and eating their own children. The prophet Elisha told King Yoram / Jehoram a miracle would happen the next day and food would be so plentiful it would be bought for ridiculously low prices. One of the king’s attendants, actually, the gatekeeper ridiculed Elisha, indicating even God could not make such a thing happen. Elisha let the gatekeeper know he would see the prophecy come true, but he would not benefit from it. As we know from reading the “rest of the story”, the gatekeeper did see the miracle come to pass and he was trampled to death at the gate of the city.


One of our Torah study participants brought these three points to the group concerning this Haftarah. Very appropriate, I might say!!!

1. If The Almighty or His genuine spokesperson, a true prophet, says something will happen, “It will happen” no matter how unbelievable it may appear!

2. Even if you are “outside the camp” as were the lepers, The Holy One still has a work for you to do!

3. “Listen” to the lowly (lepers). In doing so, you just may find “treasure”!


Metzora ~ Person Afflicted With Tzara’at
B’rit Hadashah: Mattityahu / Matthew 9:20 – 26;
Mark 5:24b – 34; Luke 8:42b – 48; Ivrim / Hebrews 13:4


Mattityahu / Matthew 9:20 – 26      Wow!!! We could spend our entire allotted time on just these seven verses. There is such an awesome teaching on the (tzeet-zeet) tzitzit / fringes and how their windings and knottings spell out the name of the Lord as well as (eh-kahd) echad / one. There just isn’t time or space for that right now.

The woman with the issue of blood (hemorrhaging) was in a state of ritual impurity. No wonder she approached from behind; she was afraid and this is why she hesitated to answer when Yeshua questioned who touched Him. Normally, the impure defiles the pure but this time, the opposite happened. The woman’s impurity was instantly removed. This is similar to the altar consecrating all it touches and all who/what touches it.

In verse 23 Yeshua tells the flute-players and the crowd to get out. In Middle Eastern countries hired musicians and professional mourners were in keeping with the custom of the day. These people jeered at Him when He said she was not dead, only sleeping. Here we find Yeshua initiates the contact with what is regarded in Judaism as the primary source of all impurity, a dead body (verse 25). Again, Yeshua isn’t made impure; on the contrary, the young girl is brought back to life!!!


Mark 5:24b – 34       Mark’s rendering of the Matthew 9:20-22 account is a little more detailed but I could find no additional commentary.


Luke 8:42b – 48       The same is true of Luke’s account concerning the woman with the issue of blood.


Ivrim / Hebrews 13:4       “Marriage is honorable in every respect; and, in particular, sex within marriage is pure.” I believe this verse is quite clear. There are some translations which render this verse as “let sex with marriage be pure.” If this is correct, perhaps Rav Sha’ul / Rabbi Paul was encouraging his readers to observe the laws of family purity, specifically, the laws concerning the (nee-dah) niddah / menstruous woman with regard to Vayikra / Leviticus 15:19.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Some parting thoughts concerning metzora and lashon hara: The Torah clearly shows us one of the causes of tzara’at / leprosy was improper speech / lashon hara. There are two types of people in the world . . . those who view the glass as half empty and those who view the glass as half full. Most usually, those who speak lashon hara view the glass as half empty. The people who view the glass as half full are not the critics and faultfinders, but they are the happy people in life who can see the positive in their spouses, their children, their friends AND their surroundings. As such, they are happier people.


Lashon Hara is destructive not only to the person about whom it is spoken; it is far more destructive to the person who speaks it because it teaches him / her to be negative, which is a terrible thing. Lashon hara is also an indication of pride. The one who speaks negatively or unkindly about others betrays an exalted opinion of one’s self.

The corresponding Psalm for this Torah portion is: Psalm 120

Next Week’s Lesson: Parashah #29
Acharei Mot ~ After The Death
Torah: Vayikra / Leviticus 16:1 ~ 18:30
Haftarah: Yechezk’el / Ezekiel 22:1 – 19
B’rit Hadashah: Romans 3:19 – 28; Romans 9:30 ~ 10:13; 1st Corinthians 5:1 – 13 with
2nd Corinthians 2:1 – 11; Galatians 3:10 – 14; Ivrim / Hebrews 7:23 ~ 10:25

Who fills his mind with Torah clears it of fear and folly.
Rabbi Chanina Sgan HaKohanim

Organize yourselves into classes for the study of Torah,
since it can best be acquired in association with others.
Talmud: Berkot 63b

Shavuah tov (have a good week)!!!

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