Parshas Tazria-Metzora

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By Rabbi Shloime Lindenbaum

אדם כי יהיה בעור בשרו וכו’ והובא אל אהרן הכהן (פרק יג פסוק ב)

The Torah tells us that all decisions regarding a person’s status as a מצורע (leper) can only be determined by a כהן. R’ Moshe Feinstein explains that the כהנים are the spiritual leaders and guides of the nation and they represent all of us in the בית המקדש in service of Hashem. Therefore, one may think that their role is specifically in the spiritual areas of life and their place to help us is only in the בית המקדש. This is why the Torah instructs us that by צרעת, which seems to be a totally physical ailment with symptoms only related to our bodies, we must still consult the כהנים. This shows us that we must be tied to Hashem in all areas of life and that everything we experience is from Hashem and cannot be viewed as happenstance. Although the Torah allows us to consult with medical professionals, we must remember that Hashem is the reason behind everything and we must hear His messages to us to do תשובה.

בגדיו יהיו פרמים וראשו יהיה פרוע (פרק יג פסוק מה)

A מצורע who is sent out of civilization has to sit with torn clothes and overgrown hair until he is healed. The Chofetz Chaim explains that צרעת comes because a person speaks לשון הרע (slander) and לשון הרע against others is most often caused by the speaker’s overinflated ego. Because he sees himself as being better and more important than others, he feels that he has the right to talk down about them. If he recognized his own faults, he would never realize and stress the faults of his friends. In order to combat his misplaced pride and hubris the Torah instructs the מצורע to appear as a lowly and disgraced person- with torn clothing and overgrown hair. By doing this, hopefully he will never again put down others because of his own ego.

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