Tazria-Metzorah (Leviticus 12:1 - 15:33)

In this double portion of Tazria-Metzorah concerning impurity, the priest has a most important role. It is he who must discern if various skin eruptions on a person’s clothing or flesh warrant that person being made to separate him or herself from the community until the eruption has disappeared.

It would be easy to see this as merely a medical precaution. That is, preventing others from catching this disease would seem paramount. Remember, however, that as long as the person is deemed impure, he is not allowed to come into HaShem’s presence, a great privilege. Being denied that privilege probably caused a great deal of suffering.

While modern commentators and most medieval commentators viewed the eruption on clothing as a natural phenomenon, according to a commentator in Aitz Chayim (p,658), Maimonides and Ramban saw it as supernatural, and something that could only occur in the Land of Israel.

Why Israel? Because of a sensitivity to immorality in the land. Impure clothing would indicate that the wearer was immoral and anyone who witnessed this would know it. Further, dumped as it were, outside the camp, separated from friends and family for at least 8 days, imagine the sense of desperation experienced by the sufferer until he/she was readmitted as “pure.”

Imagine the sense of relief when readmission did occur. Imagine being all too happy to follow whatever sacrifice ritual was prescribed. Imagine, finally, being able to come back into HaShem’s presence, rejoining the community, accepted as “pure.”

Questions for discussion: Is there a connection here with the current pandemic? How? What was your honest reaction when you first heard that someone you knew in the community had caught the virus? Was there a feeling you had that at the very least they had done something wrong and so morally they were due to be unapproved of?

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