Parashat Metzora 5784

18 April 2024 – 10 Nisan 5784

Rabbi Adam Frankenberg

Traditionally when studying the Torah a person, when a child, would start with the Book of Leviticus. Because of starting there, Metzora would have been one of the Sedrot encountered first.

One has to ask oneself the question, what would they have made of it? Because at least at first glance, Metzora is at best alien and remote from our lives as it would have been for the young Beit-Midrash students at that time in medieval Europe, through to late eighteenth century Poland.

The topics covered in this week’s parasha can be summarized as the following: tzara’ath (sometimes translated as leprosy); purification rituals (in mindbending detail); offerings of various kinds; impurity in houses; and, towards the end of the sedra, impurities caused by Niddah, as well as seminal discharges.

Indeed for someone coming to write a D’var Torah most of these topics seem unhopeful at best. So instead, here are some true gems of the Torah.

One such is the commandment to, ‘send away the mother bird’. The Mitzvah to ‘send away the mother bird’ is interesting because it is one of only two commandments for which Torah promises a direct reward. The other being to Honour one’s father and mother. Whilst you could speculate that this is out of concern for the emotional wellbeing of the mother bird, this law is actually a hock and has no reason.

As arbitrary, and maybe to a modern reader pointless, as many of these halachot might seem to be traditionally, they were regarded as having deep mystical significance. This may just be a case of meaning and beauty being there. We simply have to look for them.

However amid all the details, mystical or otherwise, the Torah offers a ruling with important lessons for our own societies.

When describing the offerings brought by someone at the end of their period of leprosy the Torah legislated for the poor person to be able to bring less than the rich.

One over arching teaching I think we can learn from this parash is to find and draw meaning from which parts of the Torah and the Tradition speak to us. As well as letting G-D into our lives where we can.

As so many of these laws seem mundane, we can try to do this in our lives as well.

Shabbat Shalom.

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