Torah Weekly

For the week ending 16 April 2016 / 8 Nisan 5776

Parshat Metzora

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair - www.seasonsofthemoon.com
The Color of Heaven Artscroll

Overview

The Torah describes the procedure for a metzora (a person afflicted with tzara'at) upon conclusion of his isolation. This process extends for a week and involves korbanot and immersions in the mikveh. Then, a kohen must pronounce the metzora pure. A metzora of limited financial means may substitute lesser offerings for the more expensive animals. Before a kohen diagnoses that a house has tzara'at, household possessions are removed to prevent them from also being declared ritually impure. The tzara'at is removed by smashing and rebuilding that section of the house. If it reappears, the entire building must be razed. The Torah details those bodily secretions that render a person spiritually impure, thereby preventing his contact with holy items, and the Torah defines how one regains a state of ritual purity.

Insights

Miser-Able

“And if he is poor and his means do not extend…” (14:21)

One of the well-worn canards about Jews is that we are mean.

Truth be told, proportionately more Jews give to charity than any other religion.

A 2013 poll of 4,000 people showed that nearly four in ten atheists did not donate at all, compared to three in ten Muslims and Christians, whereas more than four in ten Jews donate, and that’s talking about secular Jews. Tzedaka is in our genes. In fact, there is no word for charity in Hebrew. Tzedaka comes from the root tzedek,meaning “right”. It literally translates as “righteousness.” What the world calls charity, to a Jew is no more than doing the “right” thing.

The Talmud (Yoma 41b) notes that in all cases, a rich person who is obliged to bring an offering fulfills his obligation by bringing that of a poor person. In all cases except one in this week’s Torah portion of the Metzora offering, a rich person who brings a poor person’s offering does not achieve atonement.

Why, of all offerings, should it be that a rich person who became a metzora cannot acquit himself with the offering of a poor person?

Our Sages teach that the affliction ofthe metzora was due to stinginess (Arachin 16a). Thus, if after a rich man has transgressed the sin of avarice and has been punished with tzara’at, and in spite of his wealth he remains miserly, attempting to fulfill his obligation with the offering of a poor man, it is clear that he has not yet learned to mend his ways. He is still able to be a miser.

  • Source: Meshech Chochma

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