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Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach Metzora

The Lonely Man Of Metzora

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Metzora is a lonely Sedra this Shabbat. Usually coupled with Tazria or Parshat HaChodesh, it is rarely left like this to fend for itself. But don’t feel too bad for it; the lonely Metzora may actually be the key to our Redemption!

The famous Gemara in Sanhedrin 98 depicts Moshiach as a Metzora, a tzara’at-stricken sufferer, who sits, all bandaged up, at the gates of Rome. There he faithfully waits – in each & every generation – until the Jewish People will finally unite as one nation under G-d & merit his coming.

Now, of all the different guises we might have guessed for Moshiach, this one is surely the strangest! Talmid chacham, nobleman, military hero or leader of men, THAT I would understand. But tzara’at victim? What is that all about?

Here is what I think it means: "Metzora" is a combination of the words, "Motzei Shem Ra," literally, "putting forth a bad name." Usually, we ascribe this condition to a person who defames others, & so he is stricken with this Heaven-sent malady that aims to correct his errant behavior.

But I suggest that, more often than not, it is the world at large which is the defamer, & poor Israel the victim of its dastardly defamation. This is certainly the situation today, when Medinat Yisrael, & by extension, all of Am Yisrael, is viciously slandered with every kind of lie & false accusation. It is precisely because we are a moral people, because our army acts in such a holy fashion, because Right is on our side, the forces of evil are frustrated, & fabricate the most outrageous of charges against us.

Moshiach exists in every era; he represents us, he symbolizes us, he embodies all of us. He absorbs these verbal slings & arrows and he suffers because the world is so corrupt & vile in their hatred of the Jews & Hashem. He sits & patiently awaits the day when Truth will triumph, when the nations will come to their senses & treat G-d’s first-born with the respect & admiration we deserve.

He sits like an outcast, because WE are treated like outcasts. He is bandaged, because his nation is so sorely wounded.

Our Sedra also tells of the house which becomes infested by tzara’at, but when the Kohen orders it to be torn down, the owner finds gold & jewels hidden there by the previous residents, who fled in fear of the Israelites. Moshiach-Metzora is a sure sign that despite – or better, because – the House of Israel is "torn down" by our enemies, the golden treasure of Geula is close at hand.
Rabbi Stewart Weiss
Was ordained at the Hebrew Theological College in Skokie, Illinois, and led congregations in Chicago and Dallas prior to making Aliyah in 1992. He directs the Jewish Outreach Center in Ra'anana, helping to facilitate the spiritual absorption of new olim.
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