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Light of Dawn

Tazria-Metzora (Leviticus 12-15 )

by Rabbi Shraga Simmons

The name of this parsha is "Metzora," which refers to a type of spiritual skin disease. The commentator Sfas Emes explains that the word "Metzora" is really a contraction of two words - "Motzi Ra" - which means "eliminating the bad."

The idea is that when a person breaks out in a rash or a fever, although things look bad, it's actually a sign that the body is eliminating toxins, and going through a cleansing process.

We can apply this idea to our own lives. Sometimes it seems like we're burdened by difficulties and confusion. But the kabbalists say that in one sense this a positive sign - the toxins are all rising to the surface, as a precursor to purification.

The truth of this idea is hidden in the word Nega - which the Torah uses to describe the skin blemish discussed in this week's parsha. Nega is spelled with the Hebrew letters Nun-Gimmel-Ayin. If you switch the order of these letters, it spells Oneg - a delightful celebration of satisfaction, peace and joy. As the toxins are released, the Nega blemish turns to Oneg - joy.

Imagine a seed that's been planted in the ground. The seed slowly begins to decay, and just as it has reached its greatest point of decomposition - when the seed appears dead and destroyed - that is precisely when it begins to sprout. The darkest moment of night as a sign of the impending light of dawn.

Our world is in tumultuous times. We pray to overcome our challenges, and to begin a process of purification, leading us to our personal and national redemption ... may it come speedily in our days.

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