Thursday, April 04, 2019

nega b'or besaro

In our parsha the Torah tells us that the metzora is brought to the kohen to be looked at, but in parshas metzorah the Torah tells us that the kohen goes out to the metzorah to check if he is healed.  Why the difference?  Why mention at all who is coming to who?

The kohen is the "doctor" for whatever spiritual illness plagues the metzora.  When you need help, it's your job to seek it out.

(Hashem made "kosnos or" for Adam and Chavah after the sin.  The Midrash writes that R' Meir wrote "or" with an aleph = light instead of "or" with an ayin = skin.  R' Meir (-- same root as "or") of course knew how to spell.  What R' Meir was telling us is that the "or" of ruchniyus should not just illuminate what's inside us -- our seichel and midos -- but should illuminate and elevate our physical, exterior world as well.

Chasam Sofer writes that the targum of "kosnos or" is the same as the tagum of "bigdei kodesh," the garment of the kohen.  The kohen embodied and exemplified this teaching of R' Meir.  Therefore, the metzora, who was afflicted "b'or besaro," who failed to live up to that ideal, had to seek the help of the kohen to rectify himself.)

Once the metzora was cured, "nirpah nega tzaraas **min ha'tzaru'a**," meaning by dint of his own efforts and toil, then the kohen must go seek him out.  Ba'alei teshuvah can reach heights that even tzadikim do not reach.  The kohen who formally served as the teacher now should become the student, and learn from the example of the cured metzora.


  1. "the metzora...failed to live up to that ideal"

    unfortunately, so too the kahuna, as we find on Yoma 9: both priests of the first Temple, 9b*, and high priests of the second, 9a. which suggests that to some extent at least, the causation here may be <<reversed<< -- "Hashem made" garments of light** for man and woman, and dressed them, meaning the add-on ruchniyus was not that of Adam and Chavah, but His. so too were the bigdei kodesh add-ons to the flesh, and as Adam and Chavah were expelled from garden camp, our kohen ends up [albeit temporarily, albeit as priest] outside the mach'an'e (14:3) [to "learn" "teshuvah"]. meaning to say that a haughty or complacent or corrupt kahuna can result in [cause] misbehaving masses, some of whose members suffer Divine dermatological damage that returns to haunt*** the priests

    *we find the start of our parsha, bird offerings by new mothers, atop 9b

    **one could even read Bereishis 3:21 as Hashem-Elokim covering the first couple in some patchwork of the afflicted skins described in Tazri'ah, on account of their guilts. but the great R' Meir has a happier thought for happier reading.

    ***and there's the rub: 'hinei' so often announces plainly positive wonders [at Bereishis 28:12, a heavenly ladder; at :13, Hashem; at :15, anochi i'mach]. surely 'hinei' could announce to a kohen, over and over and over, the wonders of the Temple, from those of the heichal, to grand architectural effects? but the recurring, overriding 'hinei!' of Tazri'ah fills the priest's eyes with blisters, eruptions, blemishes; his focus is captive to results of conduct that [may have] begun with he and his brethren [Adam and Chavah caught naked, and it wasn't pretty...]

  2. "The kohen...should become the student"

    the kohen, wrapped in a garment as with light, should 'yisa panav' (Bam. 6:26), lift his* face, to "the cured metzora"

    *a meaning which may render the kohen's blessing of 6:26** at the same time a personal prayer*** [to be if needed Hashem's instrument outside the camp]

    **could 'panav' at 6:25 also be considered ambiguous, as either His face or his (the kohen's)?

    ***if it wasn't already