Modern-day Lepers

“This shall be the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing: he shall be brought unto the priest [kohein].” – Leviticus 14:2, JPS

In each case, whether a person’s home, clothing, or body is stricken with a nega (plague), he is brought to the kohein. The kohein determines not only the status of the suspected nega; he also is qualified on a spiritual level to gain insight on the state of the person’s soul. This concept is in line with the understanding of tzarras as a spiritual malaise that manifests as a skin disease.

Tzarras is one type of nega, the other two in question, here, are those that show up on a person’s clothes or the walls of a home. In all cases, as already mentioned above, the kohein is the sole individual, who uses his discernment to ascertain the specific sin that was the root cause of the blemish on a person’s soul, that manifested as a nega (literally, “plague”).

What can we learn from this connection? H’Shem is merciful; He causes afflictions such as negaim (plagues), for the sake of our chastisement, to lead us to teshuvah (repentance). He will send “an early warning signal” as a “wake up call,” specifically designated for us, so that we may scrutinize our own selves, in search for our misdeeds, character defects, and deficiencies. With the help of the light, shining from Above, we may gain insight into our inner selves.

To some degree, we may have all gotten a very real idea of the nature of isolation, while sheltering in place. Yet, sin itself distances us from G-d; and, an even greater sense of isolation may result, until our relationship with G-d is reconciled through teshuvah (repentance). Additionally, even more recent phenomenon of society, is creating outcasts, cancelled out for their views, akin to the Biblical leper who is sent outside of the camp. These are times for all of us to review our thoughts, speech, and action, in order to know where we stand in regard to our own values. And, not to fear being cast out by man; rather, to fear being cast out by G-d.

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