parashas Metzora 5782

“Then the kohen is to command that two clean living birds, cedar wood, scarlet and hyssop be brought for the one being cleansed.” – Leviticus 14:4

The cleansing of the metzora, a person who has contracted tzaras, a skin condition similar to leprosy, is done by means of a unique procedure. “He who is to be cleansed” (Targum Yonaton) is cleansed through a unique procedure, using “two clean living birds, cedar wood, scarlet and hyssop” (see above). The “ingredients” that contribute to the purification of the metzora, are carefully chosen in recognition that tzarras (leprosy) is primarily a “spiritual malaise,” that results from lashon hara (gossip; literally, “evil tongue), as well as other transgressions that indicate a lack of empathy towards others. So, the metzora is quarantined, living in isolation until his purification, so that he may contemplate his insensitivity towards others.

The cedar wood is chosen as part of the remedy, because this is a high and lofty kind of tree, that reminds the metzora of his haughtiness. For, the aggrandizement of himself over others, led towards a callous disregard of the reputation of those he slandered. This is typically understood today as placing ourselves above others, for the sake of a false sense of esteem, as if we are better than those that we put down with ill-chosen words, whether implicitly or explicitly. For,

“Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” – Psalm 51:9, JPS 1917 Tanach

Author: tzvifievel

My focus is on the synthesis of psychology, religion, and writing. I have undergraduate degrees in Psychology and English.

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