Metzora Widens Scope Of Torah By Yonasan Rutta (‘20)

(2019/5779)

In this week’s Parashah, the Torah states, “Zot Tehiyeh Torat HaMetzora BeYom Taharato; VeHuva El HaKohen,” “This is the Torah of the Metzora on the day of his purification; you shall bring him to the Kohen.” The Midrash comments (VaYikra Rabbah 15:8) that Moshe Rabbeinu was heartbroken that only Aharon HaKohen had the honor of checking the Nega’im, indicating that only Aharon and his children were allowed to do this Bedikah. Moreover, the Kohen was now granted full responsibility over all of the Avodah in the Mishkan.

Rav Moshe Feinstein (Sefer Kol Ram, Parashat Metzora Siman Bet) asks why the Kohen must give the Metzora directions for each and every step of the purification process. This Mitzvah seems a bit dragged out because of the Kohen’s involvement. The Mitzvah to wear Tefilin for example, is one in which it is implied that one must acquire Tefilin to fulfill the Mitzvah. However, in the context of a Metzora the Kohen could have simply told the Metzorah what to do in one directive, and it would be implied that he would have to fulfill it to become pure. Yet, the Kohen commands the Metzora to fulfill many similar processes to in order to become pure. Rav Moshe answers that the Torah is coming to teach us a very important lesson. People often assume that many things outside of the immediate realm of Talmud Torah, such as politics and education, are outside the realm of a Rabbi’s role. They think of a Rav as someone whose opinion is only important in the immediate realm of Talmud Torah. While this is true, the mistake that people make is that they assume that there is a world outside of the Torah. In reality, the world is Torah, and Torah is the world. The Torah is related to every part of a person’s life. This idea is expressed  when we refer to Torah study as“Ki Heim Chayeinu Ve’Orech Yameinu,” “For [Torah study] is our lives and length of our days.”

When a person wishes to give Tzedakah, he/she must realize that there are Halachot concerning prioritization, and even prohibitions concerning the misappropriation of funds. When a person wishes to seek education for his children, he/she must take into account the Halachot that govern the substance that the children may learn and the livelihoods that they may pursue (Kiddushin 82a). Therefore, it is the job of the parent or donator to be cognizant of their possible ignorance and ask their Rav before embarking on any endeavor.

The reason the Torah is teaching us this lesson in the context of a Metzora is because a person is not simply stricken with an illness  as a punishment for his misdeeds. Rambam writes in Hilchot Tumat Tzara’at (16:10), that Tzara’at is a miraculous affliction that affects a person purely for the sake of convincing him to do Teshuvah for his/her Aveirah. Just like in the context of a Metzora, a seemingly mundane phenomenon such as illness, is in reality within the scope of Torah, so too any seemingly mundane activity is within the world and bounds of Torah. Just as a Metzora must consult the Kohein who represents the paradigm of Torah observance, so too, we today must consult our present day paradigms of Torah observance - Rebbeim - in order to guide us in our everyday endeavors.


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