Metzora: Spiritual Immunity

“This shall be the law of the metzora…” (Leviticus 14:2)

The word “metzora” means, plainly, one affliced by tzaraas, a spiritual ailment with physical symptoms resembling leprosy. Our Sages teach that the word “metzora” also comprises a compound of the words, “motzi ra,” meaning, literally, “bringing forth evil.” Tzaraas afflicted those who “brought forth evil” through improper speech — gossip and slander. However, the obvious question follows: What of all those people who habitually speak lashon hara — gossip and slander — but do not become afflicted with tzaraas?

The deeper commentaries explain that “metzora” or “motzi ra,” means not only “bringing forth evil” in terms of the misdeed committed, but also means, “expunging evil,” as in, getting rid of it. When one commits certain misdeeds, the evil generated afflicts the soul, not the body. However, a healthy soul, like a healthy body, will expunge any contaminant, like our immune system attacks an invading germ. The soul pushes out the evil that has entered it, and the contaminant exits the soul and reaches the external part of man, the body. The bodily symptoms of tzaraas appear as result of the evil having been expunged from the soul.

This only takes place in a spiritually healthy individual, whose soul’s vitality can muster the strength to expel the evil that attempts to corrupt it. However, those of diminished spirituality have not the strength to combat this germ of the spirit, and therefore it remains within them, and they express no external symptoms.

Sometimes external suffering, though we never wish it upon ourselves or anyone else, can be viewed as the healthy signs of a strong spiritual immune system at work to heal our souls. May we merit, through upright thoughts, speech and deeds, to build our spiritual vitality, and see an end to all the world’s ailments speedily in our days!

 

Based on Shla”h, Parshas Metzora

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