Parashat Metzora & Shabbat HaGadol
This week’s Torah portion is called Metzora and deals with leprosy. Leprosy is a unique disease in the Bible. Although this disease can be a physical ailment caused by a physical source, in the Bible we are taught the cause is spiritual. Moses received leprosy when he doubted G-d. Miryam received leprosy when she spoke against Moses’ leadership. King Uzziah became a leper when he disobeyed G-d and entered the Temple to offer incense which was forbidden for him to do. Naaman, who was a very prideful man, also was a leper. All of these people had something in common—they placed themselves ahead of G-d. Such behavior makes us unable to do the very thing that G-d created us to do, worship G-d.
In the book of Luke we meet ten men who were lepers in chapter 17. Yeshua was on His way to Jerusalem in order to lay down His life in order to establish a New Covenant, a Covenant of Redemption. Redemption takes man, who is separated from G-d by sin and therefore unable to worship, and reconciles him back to a new position before G-d where he is able worship Him properly. Notice that in verse 11 it says that Yeshua passed through Shomron and the Galilee area. This is odd because the order is reversed. Galilee should be mentioned before Shomron as the Galilee is further north than Shomron. This reversal is no accident as the text wants to emphasize Shomron. We will see why later on in the passage. Verse 12 tells us that Yeshua enters into a certain village. This is not by chance, but because He knows that there are people there who have heard of Him and His powers and would love the opportunity to request a miracle from Him. When they hear that He is there they run to meet Him, maintaining the proper distance that Jewish Law requires and they cry out in a loud voice for Yeshua to heal them.
This is odd because the view was that leprosy was a disease from G-d and therefore only G-d could heal a person. Was it that these men really believed that Yeshua is G-d incarnate? Yeshua, testing their faith, told them to show themselves to the priest. This inspection by the priest was required by the Torah. Even though they had not received healing as of yet, they all began to go towards the priests as they were commanded. On the way they were healed. What is unique is that only one turned back to Yeshua. Why did he want to return to Yeshua? The text says (see verse 15) in order to praise G-d.
Upon returning to Yeshua, this man fell upon his face at Yeshua’s feet and gave thanks. Yeshua asked were not all ten men healed. Where are the other nine? Ask yourself, if you were in that situation, which group would you fall into: the one with the nine men who did not return to give thanks, or the man who returned to Yeshua? It is important to note that this one man who returned to Yeshua wanted to worship G-d in a loud voice. This is significant because many people can be loud and intense in trying to get what they want out of life—even highly committed and public about their feelings about G-d if they think that in the end they will receive something from it. But what about when one worships? Are we then as likely to be so committed and intense?
Please notice that at the end of the passage that Yeshua only told the one who returned that he had faith. Why is that? Because a faith which is only motivated in you and I getting what we want is not really faith at all. True faith that is rooted in redemption is a faith above all other things desires to worship the Living G-d.
I hope as you prepare for the Passover, you remember that G-d brought the people out of Egypt so they could worship Him. Let us all take the advice of Paul who said in I Corinthians 5:8,
“Therefore let us keep the festival (Passover) not with the old leaven or the leaven of wickedness and malice, but with pure and true unleavened bread.”
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