Torah Portion: Metzora Vayikra Lev. 14-15
HafTorah: II Kings 7:3-20
Tonight I want us to look at the person with leprosy and the process involved with the person becoming clean again. Look at Lev. 14:1-3 which introduces us to this process. It is important to keep in mind that the process we are looking at did not cure the leprosy but was the process to declare the person clean so they could reenter the religious life of Israel.
Mark 1:41-44 gives us an example of Yeshua healing a man from leprosy. One point to notice here is that Yeshua makes Himself unclean by touching the man when He heals him. This does what to Yeshua? It makes Yeshua Himself unclean because he touched him. After healing him Yeshua instructs him to present himself to the Priest in Jerusalem and offer the sacrifices that are commanded in our Torah Portion. Given that, what happens when the person gets to Jerusalem. He can only come as far as the city gates. The priest must come out and inspect him. If he is healed then the process begins which will make him clean. This could not be performed in the Temple or even in the city because he is still unclean.
A word about the condition of leprosy: Judaism relates it to sin with the sin being one of two things. The first is gossip or “lashon harah.” This comes from Miriam contracting leprosy after talking about Moses in B’Midbar , (Numbers) 12:1-16. The other sin being greed and is based on what happened to Elisha’s servant Gehazi in II Kings 4:42-5:19. In either case the leprosy was tied to sin.
In any case the real issue with leprosy is if it spreads over the body from the initial outbreak. Then it was confirmed it as leprosy. Without any doubt we can relate this spiritually to the way sin affects us. If left unrepented does our sin usually stop with one small sin or does it grow until, if not dealt with, consumes us and like here separates us from fellowship with G-d.
But back to the Torah, the priest starts the process by using 5 things. The first is two live clean birds (doves), second is cedar wood, third is scarlet wool, fourth is hyssop and fifth is earthen pot filled with living water. These things were then used to cleanse the leper. Just a word about these things: cedar wood symbolizes incorruptability. Solomon used it extensively in the Temple. The color of cedar is like blood and the fragrance like incense. So for the leper it had great significance for him coming back into the spiritual life of the people. Scarlet wool was also the color of blood. Isaiah 1:18 connects this to redemption. Hyssop was used in leaving Egypt. It was also used in purification rituals. Psalms 51:7
Living water, always required in purification rituals was used in the Mikvah. One of the birds was sacrificed and one let free. All the things used symbolized freedom for the leper and can be seen throughout scripture in both the New Testament and Hebrew Scriptures.
Now to the issue of a leprous house: How can a house be leprous? Spiritually if we look at the biblical examples of possible causes of leprosy such as gossip, can you identify with this? Have you ever moved into or visited a home that spiritually did not seem right. Can our spiritual condition affect the home we live in? Here Torah says the same items are used to cleanse the house. If a person saw his home going through this process would it influence him to look at his own life and what might have caused the condition? What happened if the leprosy spread in the home? It was torn down. What happens to many homes today when issues are left unresolved? The family is torn apart. Also, here in the home, every person was affected. The whole family became unclean. Trouble, strife, fighting, any of these things that occur in a home affect everyone. One is not immune to the leprosy of the home. The good news however is that there is a remedy – repentance and forgiveness and applying the blood sacrifice on all the family. These steps can stop the growth of spiritual leprosy in a home and restore the peace of G-d.
So in all these cases we have looked at there was a way back to the fellowship of G-d. We have a way back as well, symbolized for us by these things used here to cleanse the leper, a house or clothes.