Ariel Ben Avraham
Ariel Ben Avraham

Tazria-Metzora: Keeping goodness always pure and clean

These two portions of the Torah comprise the study for this week, and both continue highlighting the role of the priesthood in Judaism. We often point out that Aaron as the high priest represents the permanent awareness of our connection with God, as the result of our highest knowledge of God that Moses represents. Thus we realize that Moses always precedes Aaron and the children of Israel in all matters pertaining their relationship with the Creator, for our knowledge of Him is the foundation of our connection to Him. Hence the more we know God, the stronger is our bond with Him.

In this realization we assimilate that our connection with God is severed by unclean and impure traits and trends in consciousness that tarnish and stain the goodness of love as our essence and true identity.

“If the plague be greenish or reddish in the garment, or in the skin, or in the warp, or in the woof, or in any thing of skin, it is the plague of leprosy and shall be shown unto the priest.” (Leviticus 13:49)

Garments usually identify those who wear them, thus we recognize them by the functions they perform. Our clothes somehow are part of who we are, even if these may not reflect a specific duty or quality. Interestingly, in this verse a negative trait or a particular transgression against goodness is immediately reflected not only in our skin (as a reflection of our individual quality) but also in our garment (as an exterior or material symbol of what identifies our individual quality).

“And he [the priest] shall burn the garment, or the warp, or the woof, whether it be of wool or of linen, or anything of skin, wherein the plague is; for it is a malignant leprosy; it shall be burnt in the fire.” (13:52)

Then the priest, as the guarantor of our permanent connection with the constant goodness coming from God’s love, does the cleansing process through burning the uncleanliness of the stained garments. Again fire is brought up as the transmuting catalyst that also symbolizes the transforming power of love, once we maintain the fire of our love bonding with the fire of God’s love.

“And the priest shall offer them [two turtle-doves or two young pigeons], the one for a sin-offering and the other for a burnt-offering; and the priest shall make atonement for him before the Lord for his issue.” (15:15)

Our sages wisely indicate that in the same way one good action leads us to do more positive deeds, bad actions lead us to more negative trends. They also point out that bad traits come out of negative desires derived from ego’s materialistic fantasies and illusions, which precede negative speech before committing bad actions.

As the one between negative thinking and negative deeds, our sages compare negative talk to pigeons that mutter frantically before fighting each other. Hence we are commanded to sacrifice pigeons in order to transmute some of our sins and transgressions against our fellow man. This is done through the corrective guidance of the permanent awareness that the most important principle of our life is to maintain goodness as our common bond with God.

All our sins and transgressions are against goodness, while forgetting that it is the reason and purpose of life in this world, as well as our sustenance. Thus we realize that our purity and cleanliness are the skin and the garment of goodness as our essence and true identity that keep us always bonding with God as the Source of all.

About the Author
Ariel Ben Avraham was born in Colombia (1958) from a family with Sephardic ancestry. He studied Cultural Anthropology in Bogota, and lived twenty years in Chicago working as a radio and television producer and writer. He emigrated to Israel in 2004, and for the last fourteen years has been studying the Chassidic mystic tradition, about which he writes and teaches. Based on his studies, he wrote his first book "God's Love" in 2009. He currently lives in Kochav Yaakov.
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