April 22, 2023: Parashat Torah Portion Tazria-Metzora
This week’s Parashah Torah Portion Tazria-Metzora is taken from Leviticus 12:1-15:33. Join Dr. Jeffery Myers, as he dives deep into the power of the tongue and of the words we choose to speak! Words are creative but also destructive. If good words are holy, then evil words are a desecration.
Follow along in the AUDIO PODCAST, by clicking on the play button below, and reading along with the notes, as you listen to today's Parashah Torah Portion:
Lion of Judah Speaks: Parashah Torah Portion Tazria-Metzora - Leviticus 12:1-15:33
The use of words in today’s society seems to be weapons of mass destruction. These words are seeking to inflict pain and are increasing daily. Speech, the ability to convey ideas and feelings through words is unique to human beings. It can be a blessing or a type of abuse. The words our children choose to use in expressing themselves help create their personal window on the world. The Hebrew term for speaking badly of others is called “lashon hara” …literally evil language or evil speech. Leviticus 19:16 says, “Do not go around spreading slander among your people, but also don’t stand idly by when your neighbor’s life is at stake; I am Adonai.” This gossip or slander is malicious false information called “motzi shem ra” which means “giving another a bad name”. The misuse of speech in Hebrew understanding is that is affects and destroys 3 lives: the person speaking, the person spoken about, the person spoken to.
Language is life! Words are creative but also destructive. If good words are holy then evil words are a desecration. Evil speech generates negative energies. In this parashah, we see a link between “tzara’at”
(a skin disease like leprosy), and the sin of gossip. Leprosy is a highly contagious chronic bacterial infection. It is treatable today but in Biblical times required life-long suffering, banishment, and isolation.
According to rabbinical sources, the root cause of tzara’at was spiritual, manifesting in the physical. You might think that to be an overreach but we also know the Word says, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine, a broken spirit drieth the bones.” We can see that actions create physical situations. We also read in I Corinthians 11:29-30, “for a person who eats & drinks without recognizing the body eats & drinks brings judgment upon himself. This is why many among you are weak and sick and some have died.” We see that leprosy reflected the spiritual condition of the person who had contracted it.
The practice of gossip or slander opens the door for both spiritual and physical oppression & illness. Miryam, Moses’ sister spoke or gossiped about her brother, the leader of the Hebrew people, caused her to have “tzara’at.” The Tanakh & Brit Chadashah teach us that the importance of guarding one’s words is critical. Ya’akov proclaims that anyone who thinks he is religiously observant but does not control his tongue is deceiving himself, and his observance counts for nothing (James 1:20). Yeshua said at the Sermon on the Mount (teaching based on Torah) that a good person produces good things from the store of good in his heart, while the evil person produces evil things from the store of evil in his heart. For his mouth speaks what overflows from his heart (Luke 6:45). So, we understand that Leprosy is the symbol of sin.
The leper had no place in the camp of Israel. His dwelling place had to be outside the camp. The leper was not only sick, but unclean, outlawed, untouchable and deprived of any right to participate in public worship or any public work. They had to declare their uncleanness in a loud voice wherever they traveled.
The ceremony of cleansing the leper, scripture describes for us in great details. There is great resemblance between this ceremony and that of the consecration of the priest. It lasted 7 days. After the initial cleansing the leper was to shave his head, his beard, and his eyebrows, he was to wash his clothes and his body, and then he was considered clean. Yet this was not the end. The ceremony of the first day returned the ex-leper to the camp, but not to his own home. On the 8th day, the man had to bring a triple sacrifice: a male lamb for a trespass offering, a ewe lamb for a sin offering, and a male lamb for a burnt offering.
The anointing ceremony is most detailed. The priest was to anoint the tip of the right ear of the leper to be pronounced clean, then the thumb of his right hand and the great toe of his right foot, this after the priest had placed some of the blood of the trespass offering on these parts of the cleansed leper. Blood – the blood atonement – was needed in order to atone for him before a holy Yah; and then the anointing oil, symbol of the Ruach HaKodesh – the Ruach of holiness – in order to renew and to sanctify the man. The blood of atonement and the oil of anointing had to cover the ear – organ of hearing, the hand – the organ of working, and the foot – organ of walking, in order to signify that man should hear and do the will of Yah. The ideal servant heard and did the will of Elohim, even though he had to suffer much for doing so.
Sin separates us from Yah. Like leprosy, sin is hereditary. We are born in sin and shapened in iniquity. There is only one man in the whole of humanity who is an exception. . . Yeshua Hamashiach. Sin today is running rampant. We certainly know something is not in order in society. . . in the Kehillah. The trouble is that we look at these phenomena as something natural and normal. In fact, some see in these developments something positive, of which we should be glad! The leprosy is spreading and growing and it seems if no one cares. The Kehillah has been infected by the virus. There is no longer a boundary between the sacred and the profane, the unclean and the clean . . . everything is being blurred. What is sad is that the Messiah Yeshua – the only one in history who was entirely free from this disease and who is the only one in whose hand is the cure for this disease, the spiritual leprosy – has been put outside the camp, the Kehillah, our lives.
He sits as a leper among the lepers “at the entrance”, that is, at the entrance of Rome, according to the rabbis. The Messiah is waiting for the call back to His own people Israel, and to His Kehillah who has driven Him away. We face a great challenge as a Messianic Community. Can we maintain our identification with our Messiah and with our Jewish people and Gentile believers at the same time? If we are a bridge, can we show the way to a holy walk with Yeshua? However, we are faced with the same issues that confront all who follow Yeshua. Nearness to Messiah often creates distance from friends and loved ones. Today, Yeshua is often found outside the established religious world, and even beyond the bounds of social acceptability. Are we willing to follow Him there?
The leper was “like one dead” and now that he is cleansed, he is alive, cast out and now restored. He is a priest in this way, because he dwells among his people as a sign of Elohim’s restorative power. Likewise, our life in Messiah is incomplete unless it is a sign of Messiah’s restoration to those estranged from Him. We have been restored to the camp to be a sign of restoration to others. The Messiah cannot imagine the day of redemption apart from His return to His people. One day Yeshua is coming again to redeem all of Israel. May we be the bridge of restoration – a pathway of righteousness – to lead the prodigals back home to the Father.
Shabbat Shalom Mishpocha,
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Keep your words faith-filled and your Sabbath sweet. Follow Adonai in all your ways. Love Him with all your heart and follow hard after Him. See you at the altar!