|This week happens to be a double-portion which begins with the laws concerning an “Eesha—Woman” who conceives/bears a child and ends with the laws concerning the “Metzora—Leper.” I believe these portions teach some very powerful concepts when read as an entire unit. So with that being said, let’s jump right into this week’s reading.In the second verse of this first portion (Leviticus 12:2) it says, “If a woman has conceived, and borne a male child…” The Hebrew word used here for “conceived” is “tazria” and literally means “to sow seed.” Now if we go all the way back to the beginning, we read this same root word in Genesis 3. Right after the “Eating of the Forbidden Fruit” episode, God describes the consequences for the serpent, the woman and the man’s actions. The consequence for the woman, the first “Eesha” in history, has to do with childbirth. |
God tells the “Eesha—Woman”, “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children.” To the man, Adam, God says, “Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you…in the sweat of your face you shall eat bread.” Many commentators describe these consequences on Adam and Eve as “punishments” for their disobedience. But I would like to propose these consequences to be “paths of redemption” instead. Note that God tells Adam, “Cursed is the ground for your sake.” Or, in other words, “Cursed is the ground for your benefit.” These “punishments” actually happen to be paths, which bring redemption into the world! Think about it? How do we bring redemption into the world? We have children and work hard. We raise children who will build upon the foundation we have started…a foundation that builds a way for redemption to come into this realm.Notice that both Adam and Eve’s “paths of redemption” deal with “seed.”
Adam would be a tiller of the ground and sower of seed. Eve, would be a carrier and nurturer of seed = children. The key that unlocks the power of redemption is found within the “seed.” Which is why I saved God’s words to the serpent for last. God tells the serpent, “V’evah Asheet…Vein Zar’acha U’Vein Zar’ah—And I will put enmity…between your seed and her Seed.” Notice the words “Zar’acha” and “Zar’ah.” These two words are connected to the word “Tazria” found in this week’s Torah portion (the root word is “Zera” which means “seed”). The word used here for “enmity” can also be translated as “hostility or an enemy/foe.” In other words, “there is going to be a war between seeds.” God then tells the serpent the outcome of this war. He says, “Hu Y’Shufcha Rosh V’Atah T’Shufenu Akev—He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” Basically, “Her seed’s gonna destroy your seed.” God speaks to Abraham later in the book of Genesis. He tells him, “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed…” Again we come across the word “seed.” Who is this seed? Rav Shaul (the Apostle Paul) tells us in Galatians 3:16 that “to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as of many, but as of one, ‘And to your Seed,’ who is the Messiah.”
Rav Shaul is making a point concerning the word “seed.” There is no plurality, as in “seeds”; rather, there is one “Seed,” the Messiah, who will bring blessing to all the nations of the earth. How will the Messiah bring blessing to the earth? By “crushing the head of the serpent’s seed/offspring.” But notice, that the Messiah will be bruised in the process of crushing the serpent’s offspring underfoot. This brings us to the next part of this week’s portion. The second portion this week deals with the “Metzora—Leper.” Why are these portions next to each other? Well, if you put the names of these two portions together, “Tazria” and “Metzora,” you get the meaning “She will conceive (a) leper.” We already know that “tazria—the conceived one/the Seed” is the Messiah, but what does it mean the “woman will conceive a leper?”
|In the Talmud there are several places where we find a description of the Messiah. Two of those, which I would like to share, are found in Sanhedrin 98a-b. Throughout the Bible and even in the New Testament, we never find a description of what the Messiah looks like. However, in the Talmud it says that the Messiah “[is] at the entrance of the city of Rome…[He] sits among the poor who suffer from illnesses (and He is covered in bandages).” Another passage states that the name of the Messiah is, “The Leper.” Why do the Rabbis call the Messiah a Leper sitting among the ill outside the gates of Rome? |
Because Isaiah 53 tells us, “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted.” The Messiah is an outcast…sitting outside the gates. When Yeshua came to earth, the Prophet Isaiah described Him (the future Messiah) as having, “No form or splendor; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.” Yeshua wasn’t anything special when He came to earth. He didn’t come into the world to win Mr. Universe competitions or come to be named Handsomest Guy of all time. Who was/is He? Isaiah continues, “He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” Why is He a man acquainted with grief and sorrow? Because “He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.”
They weren’t His own. He is the one described in John 1:29 as, “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” Of Him it is written in Matthew 1:21, “He will save His people from their sins.” But because He took the sin of the world upon Himself, Isaiah writes that, “we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.” Why? Because we assumed that He was “stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted.” I want you to notice the word “stricken” in this verse. In this portion, Leviticus 13:2, we read “When a man has on the skin of his body a swelling or a scab or a bright spot, and it becomes an infection of leprosy on the skin of his body…” Notice the underlined words above. These two words in Hebrew are “Nega Tza’arat—Infection of Leprosy.” The Hebrew word “Nega” meaning “infection” in Leviticus 13 is the same Hebrew word used for “stricken” in Isaiah 53. When people look at Yeshua (whether in His day or in our Modern time) they find that He is “infected” by sin. What most don’t realize is that the sin that the Messiah carries is not His own. The world looks at Yeshua and sees, as Isaiah wrote, “His visage  marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men.” Yeshua our Messiah is not necessarily the most attractive or beautiful to look upon until one realizes that when touched by Him, the Leper of Lepers, our sin = our leprosy is removed and we are completely cleansed.
1 Peter 2 tells us that though He “committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth; [He] bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.”If we return to Leviticus 13, it says in verse 3, “Et Hanega B’ohr HaBasar—the Affliction in the skin of his flesh.” What does the affliction on the skin of the Messiah’s flesh represent? The Ramchal brings an amazing insight into this verse. If you take the first Hebrew letter from each of these 4 words and put them together, you get the word “Ahavah—Love.” The affliction upon the Messiah’s flesh represents His love for humanity. The sins of the world which He has taken upon Himself are only skin deep, His love for the world on the other hand, as it says in the Psalms, “reaches to the Heavens.” However, because He is leprous = He has taken the sin of the world upon Himself, the Torah tells us that a leper, “his dwelling shall be outside the camp.”
Remember also that the Talmud describes the Messiah as dwelling “at the entrance (outside) of the city of Rome.” These passages tell us the Messiah must be an outcast from society, an outsider to the world. This is why the writer of Hebrews says, “Therefore Yeshua , that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate.” Even now, He still suffers outside the gate waiting for the world to recognize Him for Who He truly is. Waiting for the world to welcome Him back as the true redeemer of all mankind. But until then, the writer of Hebrews continues, “Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp…” You see; if you want to truly find and follow Yeshua, you have to leave the camp, the city, and the pleasures of the world. Leave the pleasures of this world behind and “humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.” (1 Peter 5)
|As it says in Psalms 16, in God’s “presence is fullness of joy; at [His] right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Yeshua is standing at the entrance of each persons heart knocking, He says “If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him…” Yes, He may be a terrifying sight at first, but in reality His beauty is not in how He looks, rather it is in what He does. The lepers are cleansed when Yeshua goes to town! Now, before I finish, I want to look at one last verse from Rav Shaul (the Apostle Paul) found in Ephesians 4:8-10. It says, “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.’ Now this, ‘He ascended’—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth?” |
Yeshua descended even to the lowest parts of the earth = He became an outcast. Why did Yeshua have to descend to the lowest parts of the earth and become an outcast? The reading from the Prophets this week comes from 2 Kings 7:3-20. The basic story line is, the kingdom of Israel is being attacked by the Arameans. The army is besieging Israel’s capital city of Samaria. The people within the city have resorted to cannibalism, because of the severity of the siege. Outside the city live 4 lepers. Nobody cares about them. The Arameans leave them alone because they’re leprous and the Israelites keep them out of the city because they’re leprous. So they say to each other, “Why should we sit here till we die? If we say: ‘Let’s go into the city,’ then the famine is in the city, so we will die there; but if we sit still here, we’ll die also. So come, let us go into the camp of the Arameans. If they spare us, we’ll live; and if they kill us, we’ll just die.” When they arrive at the camp of the Arameans they find the camp deserted “For the Lord had caused the army of the Arameans to hear a noise of chariots and a noise of horses…so abandoning their tents, their horses and their donkeys…[they] fled for their lives.”
The lepers realize what has happened, so being famished as they were, they eat and drink and take silver and gold from the tents. Suddenly they realize and say to each other, “It’s not right, what we’re doing. This day is a day of good news, and we’re keeping silent!” They hurry back to the starving city full of famished Israelites and report the good news. I would like to refer to Rabbi Jonathan Sacks concerning this story. Why did Yeshua come as an outsider to bring the good news? The same reason these lepers came and brought good news. You see, “sometimes outsiders see what insiders do not…four lepers, lowest of the low, became the harbingers of the good news that only they, because of their outcast state, were in a position to see. Sometimes outsiders do see what the rest of the world misses, and sometimes it is good news.” Yeshua came as an outcast, lowest of the low, to see what most did not. Yeshua, by accepting the status of outcast upon Himself, revealed good news to the entire world. I wrote little bit about the word “Nega—Infection/Stricken /Aflicted.” I would like to return to this word to end this observation. You see, Yeshua took the Nega upon Himself in order to bring the world to a place of delight! Why is this important to note? Because the letters that spell the Hebrew word Nega, when inverted, spells the Hebrew word Oneg, which means Delight. As it says in the Sefer Yetzirah “There is no good higher than delight (oneg/???), -[and]there is no evil lower than a plague (nega/???).” Yeshua came to turn our “mourning into dancing; [our] sackcloth [into] gladness” (Psalm 30) and our evil plague of leprous sin into the “river of [His] delights” (Psalm 36).
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Grace and Peace from God’s Bondservant,