זאת תהי’ תורת המצורע ביום טהרתו והובא אל הכהן

This shall be the law of the Metzora on the day of his purification;

he shall be brought before the Kohein

Having thoroughly discussed the detailed laws of Tzoraas itself, the Torah finally turns to the purification process through which the Metzora, or Tzoraas-sufferer, is reintroduced into society. “This shall be the law of the Metzora on the day of his purification”, begins the Torah, “he shall be brought before the Kohein”.

Kli Yakar, taking issue with this introductory verse, questions the wording used to describe the Metzora’s appearance before the Kohein. Why, asks Kli Yakar, does the Torah state that the Metzora is to be brought before the Kohein, when in truth, he is neither forced to do so nor carried there by anyone but himself? Wouldn’t it make more sense to write “he shall come before the Kohein”, given that he does so solely of his own volition?

In his ever-insightful fashion, Kli Yakar offers the following interpretation of the Torah’s choice of words. While the Metzora is indeed not forced to come to the Kohein for purification per se, his pursuit of the Kohein-purification route does have to come from a sense of compulsion, in order for it to work. He must recognize that he has no other recourse but pursuing the path of ritual purification, to remedy his Tzoraas affliction. Should he so much as entertain the notion that there may be some alternative physical cure to Tzoraas, he cannot possibly be cured by the Kohein, even were he to pursue that path as one possible remedy among others. “He shall be brought to the Kohein”, having been induced to do so by the recognition that nothing else can possibly get him out of his fix.

More broadly, this concept can be applied to all areas of spiritual recourse. We pray for deliverance, and often wonder why it doesn’t seem to work. We seek fulfillment in Torah, and often wonder why it is that we remain less than fully fulfilled.

Yet the question we must ask ourselves is this: When we pray, do we really feel compelled to do so by the knowledge that nothing but prayer and nobody but God can save us, or do we pray just as we seek human assistance; just to make sure we have all our bases covered?

When we seek fulfillment in Torah, do we do so knowing that nothing else can possibly give us that sense of fulfillment, or do we do so simply because it ranks right up there with sports, money, family, and food as a possible avenue toward inner fulfillment?

For spirituality to work, it cannot be regarded as alternative medicine. Indeed, it must be regarded as quite the opposite.

It must be regarded as the one medicine which simply has no alternative.


Tags: kohen metzora

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