Skip Navigation


Metzora מצורע

April 08, 2022
By Alexander Hazan

Parashat Metzora is often read together with Parashat Tazria. Both parshiot are about ritual purity and impurity, taharah and tumah. At the beginning of Parashat Tazria, God spoke To Moses saying “Talk to B’nei Yisrael - on the eighth day a baby boy shall be circumcised.” From here we learn the mitzvah of brit milah, or a bris.  I think that a brit milah is always such an important event because by performing this ceremony we perform the same rituals that Abraham performed. It is a way of connecting the baby with our forefathers and making him a Jew.

Parashat Metzora talks all about skin diseases and what happens if you get those diseases. In our time, we have dermatologists to help us with our skin problems, but back then we couldn’t just call our dermatologist to get rid of them. A person who had this skin disease, called tzaraat, would leave the camp until the disease cleared. Then they would go to the Kohen, or priest, and he would decide whether it was gone and you had been purified.

Imagine if you were diagnosed with a skin disease by your Rabbi and were told to leave Miami until it cleared? How would you react? Wouldn’t you think this punishment is a little harsh? We learn that the “unclean” skin diseases weren’t you just getting unlucky, it was because you spoke Lashon Harah or evil speech. In ancient times, If you spoke gossip or said mean things about somebody, God would punish you with a skin disease, and you would have to go into the wilderness for a forced quarantine.

Once, I also suffered the consequences for speaking Lashon Hara. One day I spoke Lashon Harah about a kid in my camp with my friends. What I said was not very nice. Another kid overheard me talking Lashon Harah and told the counselor of my group. My counselor was really mad and he called my parents and they were also really mad. I was punished by not being able to participate in camp activities for a whole week! But at least this taught me a valuable lesson.

The act of not speaking Lashon Harah is one of the hardest commandments to keep since sometimes it just comes out. We have all spoken Lashon Harah in our lives, and today we don’t get a skin disease, but still, the Torah teaches us how important it is to only try to speak Lashon Tov, or positive speech.

This Parsha teaches us that gossiping about someone else isn’t nice and even if you have the urge to do it, you have to be willing yourself to only say nice things.

Thank you and Shabbat Shalom!