Parashat Tazria - Metzora
Corrected Social Sin
The final step in the purification process of the Mezora is the offering of three sheep: one as a guilt-offering, one as an ascent-offering, and one as a sin-offering. The combining of these three shades of dedication is almost without parallel. (The nazir also brings all three types offering, but in the case of the nazir, the sin and ascent-offerings may be birds.) Furthermore, all three are accompanied by libations of oil, flour and wine — a phenomenon without parallel.
Tzara’at is a punishment not just for slander, but for other cardinal social sins, including haughtiness, deceit, bloodshed, rabble-rousing, perjury, sexual immorality, robbery and stinginess. (Arachin 16a; Vaykira Rabbah, Metzora). One who discovers a tzara’at mark (nega) understands that he has been “touched” by the finger of
His offerings are intended as corrective measures for these social sins. All three animals are to be sheep — he must view himself as one who has been shepherded by
The guilt-offering is most prominent among the three — and it reflects a personality who is on the verge of desolation due to his selfishness in the sphere of control and interests (The term for guilt-offering, asham, is related to the word for desolation, shamem.)
Normally, the blood of a guilt-offering is applied entirely to the Altar. But, in our case, the blood is applied to various parts of the metzora. This is highly significant, and seemingly paradoxical. We might have expected the blood — representing the life force — to be dedicated to the Altar as a sign of subordination and dedication to
- Sources: Commentary, Vayikra 14:10, 14