This week’s Parsha M’tzora is from Leviticus 14:1 to 15:33. Last week in Tazria we studied among other things the procedure for the priests determining how to isolate the skin disease tzara’at and now we read how those who have recovered or not found to be not infectious are ritually declared clean.
The priest is to take two clean birds some fresh water a piece of cedar wood and scarlet yarn and some hyssop (a herb a bit like mint) . He is to kill one of the birds over a clay pot with fresh water in it . Then he is to dip the bird the yarn and the hyssop into the blood and sprinkle it seven over the person who had been healed and he shall become ceremonially clean. Then he is to let the other bird go free.
The healed person still must bathe and shave. They can return to the camp but not sleep inside their tent for another seven days. Then they shave again, everything including eyebrows, take another bath and on the eight day the priest is to offer further sacrifices.
The cleansed person is to then take three lambs, two rams and a ewe for a burnt offering sin offering and guilt offering some flour and about a pint (half litre) of oil. The priest puts the oil in his palm and puts some on the right ear lobe right thumb and right toe of the person to be cleansed and uses the rest to put on the person’s head.
The process for examining a house for signs of infectious mould quite similar for the procedure for infectious skin diseases. If there are bricks in the house discovered with mould the priest is to remove them and take them out of the camp. any mould in the surrounding areas of the bricks removed is to be scraped away. The priest examines them again after a week and if the mould has not spread the new bricks can be put in place and the house becomes usable again. However, if the mould has spread then the house is to be demolished along with everything in it.
Haftarat M’Tzora הפטרת מצרע
Samaria had been under siege for some time by the king of Aram.. These four men had been sitting outside the city gate living off the scraps thrown over the walls. The famine had become so severe that even the scraps dried up. They faced a choice. Either die where they were or surrender to the Arameans in the hope that they could stay alive as prisoners. So, they got up in the night and started to walk towards the enemy camp. However, God caused the noise of a thunder of chariots and horsemen to be heard as they approached the enemy camp and they all fled. The diseased men found treasure and food to their hearts’ content inside the empty tents that had been previously occupied by the Armenians. After helping themselves to whatever they wanted they felt guilty. Here they were enjoying all this bouncy while the city was still under siege. They had to go back and tell them the good news, so they went back tell them what they’d seen . The siege and famine ended.
The man who stood at the gate of the city and doubted the words of Elisha who had predicted an end to the famine was crushed under foot in the rush to retrieve the bounty. This fulfilled Elisha’s prediction that he would see the end of the siege but not enjoy it.
The sacrifice for cleansing has all the ingredients for salvation, The wood of the gibbet, the blood and water that flowed from Yeshua’s side (John 19:34) , and the scarlet thread that runs through scripture from Genesis to Revelation.
There is nothing to be proud or boastful of the fact that we have knowledge of the Good News of Messiah that others don’t have. We are told that the treasure is found in earthen vessels. (2 Corinthians 4:7) It was the outsiders, marginalised and diseased who found the treasure. The only difference between us and the rest of the world is that we know where to find provision. What use is that to us if we don’t tell other people where to find it also.
The diseased men had no other choice. They would have died anyway so they took the risk and went out and ended up saving the city.
We face many risks as we share the Good News of Messiah. We have no idea how people will respond. Some will react with hostility some will try to destroy our reputation some will accuse us of being traitors to our people, but some will receive it and be grateful. As we speak out there will be fruit, We don’t know where the fruit will come from or where the opposition will come from but there will be both. The worst response we can expect is the one of indifference. Those who may find it interesting but do nothing about it.
in the land of Israel there are two inland seas, the Galilee or Kinneret and the Dead Sea. The Kinneret takes in water from the upper reaches of the Jordan and gives it out again into the Jordan valley. The Kinneret abounds in life both flora and fauna. When it reaches the Dead Sea, it flows into a stretch of water which gives nothing out. No life lives there.
That is a picture of what our lives will be like as well as the life of our congregations and churches if we only take things in but don’t give them out again. We need to take risks not knowing what will happen because of those risks, but trust that whatever happens God will use it.
This article originally appeared on the BMJA website and is reposted with permission.