Insight on the Weekly Torah Reading: Metzora



   
             
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Kosher Living

By Michael Chessen

Whereas the world in general is well aware that Jews live according to certain restrictive dietary laws, we ourselves are not always aware of the extent to which the Torah concerns itself with that which comes out of our mouths as well. The account of Creation states that man became a "living creature". The Aramaic translation here would be rendered into English as "speaking creature". The facts that only human beings have the capacities to speak and to sin are very strongly related.

Our sages link our Torah portion of Metzora, the "leper", with "motzie shem rah", a slanderer. If King Solomon stated that "a good name is better than fine (anointing) oil", then one who damages his fellow's good name deserves to be "anointed" with the infliction of Biblical leprosy. While this non-contagious infliction has no relation to the disease of the same name which in modern times has spurned colonies for the sake of its quarantine, the "metzora" nevertheless needs to undergo a period of separation from his or her community as a condition for his or her repentance.

Although this leprosy is not transmitted from person to person, it does take root in the walls of one's home, symbolically representing the family. Interestingly enough, the Metzora reading always comes within two weeks of Passover (either before or after), the preeminent family holiday. Passover, or Pesach, can be seen as the holiday in which one brings one's mouth, "peh" to "sach", or speak as one recounts the wonders of the Exodus from Egyptian bondage with one's family and guests. May our observance of a kosher Passover extend itself to help ensure a more genuinely "kosher" lifestyle throughout the entire year.

Wishing you all a Shabbat Shalom!

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