Parashat Metzora (Leprosy)
Vayikra (Leviticus) 14:1–15:33
Our weekly portion starts with a precise description of a law that deals with someone who suffered from leprosy, and how he or she was to be cleansed from the disease. This portion directly connects to last week’s portion in how it defines someone who is a leper.
Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “This shall be the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing. Now he shall be brought to the priest, and the priest shall go out to the outside of the camp. Thus the priest shall look, and if the infection of leprosy has been healed in the leper.”
A leper needed to be outside the camp, in part because the disease was so contagious. But the infected person did not just suffer physically; s/he also suffered emotionally. Lepers were considered outcasts and “impure”. This impurity was the main reason they had to be outside the camp, and also the reason the Priest needed to go outside the camp to examine if the leper was healed.
Only after the Priest ruled that the leper was healed that he would start with the different acts of purification of the leper. Why was this important? I believe the entire cleansing ceremony was prophetic and was actually fulfilled in Messiah Yeshua. The elements of the cleansing ceremony directly point to Yeshua, from the requirement that the birds offered as a sacrifice needed to be spotless and pure, and the unblemished lamb, to the significance of the number seven, which symbolizes completion and holiness, and the living waters which symbolize Yeshua Himself. All these things point directly to Him!
This week’s portion brings to mind Matthew 8:1–4, in which we learn of Yeshua healing the leper:
And when He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him. And behold, a leper came to Him, and bowed down to Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” And He stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Yeshua said to him, “See that you tell no one; but go, show yourself to the priest, and present the offering that Moses commanded, for a testimony to them.”
This passage is so rich in meaning, but I want to briefly focus on two points. The first is that Yeshua stretched out His hand and touched the leper. Please understand how significant this is! Yeshua understood the Law of Moses better than anyone and He knew that touching this “unclean” man would create quite a stir. Not only did He honor the leper’s faith, but also wanted to show His power to cleanse that which is unclean. Yeshua showed us the real meaning of the Word of God; all it took was Him speaking healing over the leper, touching Him, and the leper was healed.
The second point I’d like to emphasize is that Yeshua told the leper to go and present the offering to the priest, which Moses commanded (and appears in our parasha). Why would He do this? I believe He did so for two reasons. The first reason was His way to testify of Himself through this amazing miracle. The second is that He showed that He loved the Torah — His Father’s teachings — and He lived by it as an example for us all. As He said,
Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.