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Metzora(Leviticus 14-15)

Light of Dawn

The name of this parsha is "Metzora," which refers to a type of spiritual skin disease. The commentator Sfas Emes explains that the word "Metzora" is really a contraction of two words - "Motzi Ra" - which means "eliminating the bad."

The idea is that when a person breaks out in a rash or a fever, although things look bad, it's actually a sign that the body is eliminating toxins, and going through a cleansing process.

We can apply this idea to our own lives. Sometimes it seems like we're burdened by difficulties and confusion. But the kabbalists say that in one sense this a positive sign - the toxins are all rising to the surface, as a precursor to purification.

The truth of this idea is hidden in the word Nega - which the Torah uses to describe the skin blemish discussed in this week's parsha. Nega is spelled with the Hebrew letters Nun-Gimmel-Ayin. If you switch the order of these letters, it spells Oneg - a delightful celebration of satisfaction, peace and joy. As the toxins are released, the Nega blemish turns to Oneg - joy.

Imagine a seed that's been planted in the ground. The seed slowly begins to decay, and just as it has reached its greatest point of decomposition - when the seed appears dead and destroyed - that is precisely when it begins to sprout. The darkest moment of night as a sign of the impending light of dawn.

Our world is in tumultuous times. We pray to overcome our challenges, and to begin a process of purification, leading us to our personal and national redemption ... may it come speedily in our days.

Published: April 22, 2006

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Visitor Comments: 3

(3) mimi, April 11, 2013 1:43 PM

Darkest Night

Thank you!

(2) Jennie, April 6, 2011 10:49 PM

insightful

I really enjoyed this and will share it because it is important to remember that just because it might "look bad" or dead or without hope....doesn't mean that it is. thanks

(1) Beth Ygartua, April 6, 2008 6:54 AM

every week Rabbi Shraga Simmons has such insightful things to say they always merit a second read. And once again he has reminded me of the truth that one should never despair,no matter the appearance of the circumstances.

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