These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

מצרע, metsora

Posted on April 5, 2011 by Avi Strausberg

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in this week’s parshat metsora, we continue to delve in-depth into the procedure of ridding a leprous person of his eruptive affections.  after reading pages and pages of how to determine whether a person is unclean and therefore off-limits to society, i was bewildered when i arrived to the conundrum of how to detect a leprous house.  yes.  a house suffering from a eruptive affection seemingly similarly to that of a person if we’re to judge by the consistent word choice נגע צרעת used in both circumstances.  of course, the symptoms manifest differently in leprous houses.  look out for reddish or greenish streeks that run deep into the walls (forget the tell-tale white and red streaks commonly associated with leprous people).

aside from the amusing vision of a poor, afflicted house covered with scaly paint flakes, angry boils, and sickly streaks, i wonder how this diseased condition can be common both to walls and humans alike.  i’m convinced that those unfortunate walls caught the leprous bug from a few contagious people living within the house.  for me, there is something powerful about the idea that we as human beings can visibly affect the world around us.  our emotional health both influences our body, manifested in our external apperance, and even reaches to the walls of the homes within which we live.  i want to believe that a person who strives to do good in the world and brings warmth to others radiates a light that is actually visible in his skin, in his body, and in his home.

the Torah suggests when curing leprous walls, one first turn to the nearest cohen for diagnosis and then if need be, cast the stones somewhere far away and scrape the house of all its insides.  however, perhaps before scrapping the whole house, we might first turn inwards and see if remedying ourselves might in turn remedy the ailing walls around us.

dripping with sickness,
sins fester deepen within walls,
until they surface.

may we put forth good energy into our surroundings that only betters the world around us,