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LEVITICUS — 14:2 law

LEV148 Observe the laws of purifying someone who had tzara’as. Allusions in the purification process for a metzora--a person who had tzara’as: Cedar wood--the cedar tree grows very tall. The metzora should realize that his sin is due to haughtiness. He must now lower himself and be like a hyssop plant, which grows close to the ground. Extract from a worm--this, too, might be hint to him to curb his haughtiness and lower himself like a worm. Two birds--his sin was sinful speech, excessive and harmful chatter. Therefore, for atonement he brings birds--creatures that constantly chirp. An illusion in the purification process for those who contract spiritual impurity: water for immersion is a hint that when a person becomes cleansed of his impurity, it is a fresh start for him, as if he has just been created anew. While in the water, he should think of the world before man was created, even before any land existed and the whole world was only water. As he comes up out of the water and is purified, he is a renewed person. It is rebirth for him, so with respect to his deeds he should make a fresh start and behave only with virtue, with care for every detail of his Maker's Will.


LEVITICUS — 14:2 leper

LEV150j We should publicize the importance of refraining from loshon hora. The Midrash (Yayikra Rabbah 16:2) states that the word metzora (a person afflicted with tzoraas) comes from motzi shaim ra (a slanderer), since the disease of tzoraas is a punishment for speaking against others. ... Speaking against others causes quarrels, disputes, strife, and heartache; all of which are likely to shorten a person's lifespan. On the other hand, a person who refrains from speaking against others will lead a much more peaceful and tranquil existence, and will live longer (Kochav MaiYaakov, cited in Mayanah Shel Torah on this verse).


LEVITICUS — 14:4 order

LEV152 By reflecting on the instruments needed to purify the metzora, we can appreciate the severity of lashon hora. Rabbi Simcha Zissel Ziv of Kelm wrote that studying the portion of Metzora is analogous to visiting a doctor prior to an operation. If the patient sees that the doctor requires a large amount of the surgical instruments for the operation, it will frighten him. Let us look at the instruments required by the Torah to purify the metzora after he is healed from the physical aspects of the affliction: [this verse]. The Torah continues for an entire section with a description of the instruments and operations that are necessary to cure the metzora spiritually. From here and we can learn the gravity of loshon hora, and should be deterred from this sin. (Chochmah Umussar, vol. 1, p. 332).


LEVITICUS — 14:7 open

LEV153 (Continued from [[LEV175]] Leviticus 16:9 offering SACKS 185-7) The psychology of shame is quite different to that of guilt. We can discharge guilt by achieving forgiveness--and forgiveness can only be granted by the object of our wrongdoing, which is why Yom Kippur only atones for sins against God. Even God cannot--logically, cannot – – forgive sins committed against our fellow humans until they themselves have forgiven us. Shame cannot be removed by forgiveness. The victim of our crime may have forgiven us, but we still feel defiled by the knowledge that our name has been disgraced, our reputation harmed, our standing damaged. We still feel the stigma, the dishonor, the degradation. That is why an immensely powerful and dramatic ceremony had to take place during which people could feel and symbolically see their sins carried away to the desert, to no-man's-land [referring to the ceremony of the scapegoat, Leviticus 16:7-22]. A similar ceremony took place when a leper was cleansed. The priest took two birds, killed one, and released the other to fly away across the open fields [Leviticus 14:4-7]. Again, the act was one of cleansing, not atoning, and had to do with shame, not guilt. Judaism is a religion of hope, and its great rituals of repentance and atonement are part of that hope. We are not condemned to live endlessly with the mistakes and errors of our past. That is the great difference between a guilt culture and a shame culture. But Judaism also acknowledges the existence of shame. Hence the elaborate ritual of the scapegoat that seemed to carry away the tum'a, the defilement that is the mark of shame. It could only be done on Yom Kippur because that was the one day of the year in which everyone shared, at least vicariously, in the process of confession, repentance, atonement, and purification. When a whole society confesses its guilt, individuals can be redeemed from shame.


LEVITICUS — 14:9 hair

LEV155 A metzora's purification requires that he shave off all of his hair. The metzora is to regard his purification as a new beginning for him, and his hair, too, must have a new beginning. As his hair makes a new start, the metzora makes a new start, too, regarding his deeds, because when one's body is hairless, it is easier to cleanse oneself of unwanted dirt. So, too, when a metzora is in the midst of the process of becoming free of impurity, it is fitting that he shave his entire body, for such shaving demonstrates his readiness to do everything possible to cleanse and purify himself. The act will inspire him to change his deeds, too, converting them from bad to good, purifying them to the greatest degree possible.


LEVITICUS — 14:10 sheep

LEV156 Laws of the metzora’s offering when he is cured of his tsara’as. Offerings supply imagery that humbles the heart of the sinner who is obligated to bring them. The offerings inspire him to subdue his animal side and place his noble soul in charge of his life (See [[EXOD940]] Exodus 25:8 sanctuary CHINUCH 62-5). Accordingly, a metzora must bring offerings. He was stricken with tsara’as because he was drawn after base desires which led him to speak or act in ways that harmed his fellow. When he is cured, the offerings remind him of his sin and set him on the correct path for the future.


LEVITICUS — 14:12 guilt

LEV157 Speaking loshon hora implies a lack of awareness of God's presence. Sforno explains why the metzora was required to bring a guilt offering. When someone speaks loshon hora, he usually does so secretly. This implies a lack of awareness of God's omnipresence. Just as a person must bring a guilt offering for the sin of misusing sacred property (me'elah), so too the metzora must bring a guilt offering for his trespass against God. The Yeraim also expresses this concept in his explanation of the Talmudic statement that speaking loshon hora is tantamount to atheism (Erchin 15b). Although the speaker of loshon hora usually makes sure that the subject is not listening, he forgets that God hears every word.


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