The Torah portion, or parasha, this week is called Metzora and is found in Leviticus 14:1-15:33. The passage is a continuation of last week’s portion about tzara’at. God gives Moses instructions for the rites of purification and the sacrifices that the m’tzora (person afflicted with tzara’at, or potentially contagious skin diseases) must bring in order to complete the process of ritual purification. Provisions are made so that a poor person can bring less costly sacrifices. God also tells Moses that once the people have settled in the land of Canaan a person may discover some sort of tzara’at (mold, in this case) on the walls of his home. A priest must examine it; if he declares that the house is afflicted with tzara’at, the affected stones must be removed and replaced. If the tzara’at returns, the house must be demolished. If it does not return, the priest performs the specified ritual of purification. The passage also includes rituals of purification regarding certain body fluids of men and women.
In this passage, like in last week’s passage, we see rituals of purification to allow people who have been temporarily isolated from the community to become part of the community again. We also see that sacrifices included in the purification process were adjusted so they were affordable for all. Everyone had the opportunity to be right with God and connected to the community. It is important to note that when a person was in a state of impurity, a priest would meet with them outside the camp to meet with that person in order to decide if they were healed and could come back to the community. This required the priest to feel what it was like to be outside the camp and to walk in the shoes of the person that had been isolated. Only then could the person be healed. Likewise, it is important for us today to walk in other people’s shoes and to understand their circumstances before passing judgment.