Commentary on Parashat Metzora, Leviticus 14:1 - 15:33
God spoke to Moses, saying, “This is the instruction on how to purify a leper who is healed. When the time is right, a priest shall go outside the camp to the leper’s area and confirm if the leper is healed. The priest then shall make a sacrifice with two clean, living birds. One bird is to be killed with ritual while the other is to be set free in open country.
“The healed leper must wash his clothes, shave off all his hair and bathe in water. Then he shall be clean enough to enter the camp, but he must remain outside his tent for seven days. On the seventh day, after he shaves off all the hair on his body, scrubs his clothes and washes his body, then he shall be clean.
“On the eighth day, the healed leper, two lambs without blemish, and a flour and oil offering shall be presented before the Lord at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. The priest shall ritually slaughter the lambs and use their blood and the flour and oil to make wave offerings, sin offerings, burnt offerings and guilt offerings for the leper who is to be cleansed. With ritual and ceremony, the priest shall make expiation for him before the Lord. Then he shall be clean.”
Then God spoke to Moses and Aaron saying, “When you enter the land of Canaan and I inflict leprosy upon a house there, the owner shall come and tell the priest of the affliction. The priest must examine the house and pronounce the home clean or unclean. The unclean parts must be removed and replaced with clean materials. If the whole house is unclean, the house shall be torn down and its materials shall be taken to an unclean place outside the city. The house is to be rebuilt with clean materials.
“The priest will inspect the house again. If the priest pronounces the house clean of leprosy, then the priest is to perform a cleansing ritual for the house. He shall make offerings before the Lord with two clean birds. One is to be slaughtered and the other is to be set free in the open country. The priest thus effects purification for the house and it is clean.”
The Lord then spoke to Moses and Aaron and instructed them to tell the people about the laws concerning the emission of bodily fluids. There are times when a man or a woman is “clean” [in a spiritual, not physical sense] and a time when a man or a woman is “unclean.” There are specific rituals to transform a man or woman from unclean to clean.
Parashat Metzora Discussion Questions
1) Why do you think there is a specific priestly purification ritual for a leper who is no longer sick? Do you have a purification ritual for when you become well after being sick? What is it?
2) In this portion, God says that God inflicts leprosy. Do you believe that God causes leprosy? Do you believe that God causes sicknesses? Why or why not?
Reprinted with permission from Jewish Family & Life!