מְצֹרָע‎ ‎ 
Metzora / Infected One
Leviticus 13:1-15:33
HafTorah Portion 2 Kings 7:3-20
Brit Chadasha Romans 6:8-23

     From the past Torah portions and the other related stories in the Scriptures regarding metzora, we can understand that the impurity of this disease of the skin and the disease of the house is gossip and slandering the name of someone else.
     We read that the different situations define a person’s state as impure, and there were different ways in which that person was to be purified as in the case and separate law pertaining to the metzora. While all the other impure people were forbidden from entering the Temple or coming into contact with the sacrifices, the metzora was made to sit alone outside the city and act as a mourner, wearing torn clothes. The sages teach that the significance of this was due to the fact that the impurity is not just in relation to the holiness of the Temple or sacrifices but rather that it dives deep into the inner soul of holiness or lack of and divulges their expression of thought, ego and inner circle. Their hearts grew arrogant.
     Some examples that we are familiar with are Miriam, (Numbers 12:10), of course Naaman (2 Kings 5), and King Uzziya who became metzora because he wanted to take on the role of a priest and burn incense in the Temple and was then dethroned (2 Kings 15:5, 2 Chronicles 26:19-21).  
     Yeshua confirms that the metzora is a physical manifestation of an inner defilement when He gave instructions that the pure must be brought to the High Priest, Luke 7:14 and Matthew 8:4. Of course, we know today He is The High Priest, and we must humbly go before Him for our cleansing.
   What is the root case of metzora? Slander and gossip always begin with conceit. Gossip and slander are birthed from conceit and are expressions of arrogance.  In the Scriptures, arrogance is synonymous with ‘the heart being lifted up’.
      In 2 Kings 14:8-10 Amaziah is warned of his arrogance. ‘Then Amaziah sent messengers to Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz, the son of Jehu, king of Israel, saying, “Come, let us face one another in battle.” And Jehoash king of Israel sent to Amaziah king of Judah, saying, “The thistle that was in Lebanon sent to the cedar that was in Lebanon, saying, ‘Give your daughter to my son as wife’; and a wild beast that was in Lebanon passed by and trampled the thistle. 10 You have indeed defeated Edom, and your heart has lifted you up. Glory in that, and stay at home; for why should you meddle with trouble so that you fall—you and Judah with you?”
     Deuteronomy 2:30 tells us about the defeat of King Sihon as it was God who hardened his heart, ‘But Sihon king of Heshbon would not let us pass through, for the Lord your God hardened his spirit and made his heart obstinate, that He might deliver him into your hand, as it is this day.’
     In 2 Chronicles 32:24-26  Hezekiah learns to humble himself. ‘In those days Hezekiah was sick and near death, and he prayed to the Lord; and He spoke to him and gave him a sign. 25 But Hezekiah did not repay according to the favor shown him, for his heart was lifted up; therefore, wrath was looming over him and over Judah and Jerusalem. 26 Then Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the Lord did not come upon them in the days of Hezekiah.’
     In Deuteronomy 8:11-17 we are warned that if we neglect the commandments of God, we lift up our hearts and give glory to ourselves. ‘Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today, 12 lest—when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them; 13 and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; 14 when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; 15 who led you through that great and terrible wilderness, in which were fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty land where there was no water; who brought water for you out of the flinty rock; 16 who fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do you good in the end— 17 then you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.’
   The arrogant will lay traps Psalm 140:5. Adonai is aware of the arrogant from afar Psalm 138:6. The arrogant will boast of his heart’s desire and will not seek God Psalm 10:3-4. Arrogance loves transgressions Proverbs 17:19. The arrogant turn away from Torah, try to fool others into believing walking in Torah when they aren’t, are cursed and will be rebuked Psalm 119:21.  Even the arrogance of a city will be broken Ezekiel 16:49.
    Romans 11 is a perfect example of arrogance of the heart being lifted up of conceit against the Jewish people.
     Romans 11:1-2 ‘I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew.’
     Romans 11:11 ‘I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles…’
     Romans 11:17-18 ‘And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, 18 do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.’

     Proverbs 16:18 ‘Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.’
     1 Samuel 2:3 ‘Boast no more so very proudly, do not let arrogance come out of your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and with Him actions are weighed.’
     Ecclesiastes 7:8 ‘The end of a matter is better than its beginning; patience of spirit is better than haughtiness of spirit.’
     Isaiah 13:11 ‘Thus I will punish the world for its evil and the wicked for their iniquity; I will also put an end to the arrogance of the proud and abase the haughtiness of the ruthless.’

     If we are not walking in God’s Torah, if we make our own holidays as Queen Vashti, if we degrade the Messianic Synagogues, if we allow anti Semitism to rise, aren’t we being swallowed up in our own conceit?

 


 

תַזְרִיעַ
Tazria / She Bears Seed
Leviticus 12:1-13:59
HafTorah Portion 2 Kings 4:42-5:19
Brit Chadasha Matthew 8:1-4

     This parsha begins with instructions regarding the birth of children. In the case of a male child, the Scriptures say, “On the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.” Leviticus 12:3. The Hebrew word for circumcision is milah. The act of circumcision is called a Brit Milah, which has even more significance: The Covenant of Circumcision, in Hebrew: בְרִית מִילָה. This is because even before the events at Mt. Sinai, circumcision became the sign of God’s covenant with Abraham. Genesis 12:1-3, Genesis 15:9-21 and Genesis 17:1-14.
     Why is this external mitzvah the very sign of our covenant with God and His with us? And why on the eighth day?  Interestingly, the Torah portion that we just completed was Shemini/Eighth because it dealt with the inauguration of the Mishkan and the priests on the eighth day. 
     The Mishkan was the dwelling place of God.  It required His people to build it to the specifications that God directed.  It was an outward act of an inward sign of Him and His people. The circumcision is an outward act of an inward sign of His people and now the dwelling place of God.
     1 Corinthians 3:16-17 ‘Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.’
     The first three covenants, the Eden (Genesis 1:26-28, 2:15-17), the Adamic (Genesis 3:14-19) and the Noah Covenant (Genesis 9:8-12) required nothing physical from man; these are universal covenants. But to be with God is also to be part of a particular covenant of exchange with God. God calls; we respond. God begins the work and calls on us to complete it. That is what the act of circumcision represents.
     Circumcision was/is so important that there was strife between Zipporah and Moses on their journey. The sages do not agree on who was circumcised and they do not totally agree on the dialogue, yet an article by Fred Blumenthal clarifies some: “It was the story of the circumcision, and the ceremony surrounding it, that had completed the appointment of Moses; it made no difference which one of his sons was being circumcised, whether Gershom or Eliezer. The change of Zipporah from a symbol of Midianite religion to a companion on their way ahead is the essence of the story told in these three short sentences. Moses becomes her "bridegroom," her newly acquired husband because they both were culturally new persons. The expression hatan damim [bridegroom of blood] refers to the blood of circumcision which erases any preceding affiliation and allegorically seals the appointment of Moses to the leadership of his people.”
     For the Romans, the Greeks and the ancient world generally, the gods were to be found in nature: the sun, the sea, the sky, the earth, its seasons, the fields and their fertility. Thus, they worshiped the beauty of the body and the beauty of creation. They worshipped and worship the created instead of the Creator.  Yet we know that God is beyond mere nature. The Romans found circumcision strange because it was unnatural. Why not celebrate the human body as God made it? Thus, the question, “If God really wants males to be circumcised, why did He not arrange for babies to be born circumcised?” Rabbi Akiva answered this by saying, “God did not cause male children to be born circumcised because He deliberately left this act, this sign of the covenant, to us.”   
     Even further, this is the outward work of the building of the Tabernacle for Him.
     Ephesians 2:19-22 ‘So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Yeshua the Messiah Himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.’
     The Brit Chadasha teaches that circumcision is not null and void, but rather much more detail oriented than a physical circumcision.  Although much more physically painful when carried out, the physical outward when done is done.  The instructions that we have today regarding circumcision are never ending, never ceasing, never done.  We see in Romans 3:1-2 that circumcision was not made null and void, ‘Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God.’
      Romans 2:29 clarifies that a Jewish person is one inwardly. ‘But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.’ Romans 2:25 also clarifies that it is important to complete both. ‘For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision.’
     Deuteronomy 30:6 ‘And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.’
     Jeremiah 4:4 “Circumcise yourselves to the Lord; remove the foreskin of your hearts, O men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem; lest my wrath go forth like fire, and burn with none to quench it, because of the evil of your deeds.”
     Jeremiah 6:10 tells us that circumcision reaches even to our ears. ‘To whom shall I speak and give warning, that they may hear? Behold, their ears are uncircumcised, they cannot listen; behold, the word of the Lord is to them an object of scorn; they take no pleasure in it.
     Acts 7:51 clarifies those that do not listen: ‘You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you.’