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Metzora: The Cry of the Neshama

זאת תהי' תורת המצורע ביום טהרתו והובא אל הכהן.

“And this shall be the instruction for the leper on the day of his purification, and he shall be brought to the Kohen.” (Vayikra 14:2)

It is interesting that the verse chooses to say that the leper is brought to the Kohen, when in fact the leper was not permitted to enter the camp. In fact, the Torah continues by saying that the Kohen goes out to the leper. One way to explain the word “vehuva – and it was brought” is that a message about the leper’s status was brought to the Kohen. However, there is a deeper meaning in this verse, which must be properly understood.

The verse is conveying an important message, which can be understood through the following story:

A person once came to Rebbe Ahrele Roth zt”l, the author of Shomrei Emunim (his yartzeit is on 6 Nissan), and broke out in pitiful sobs. The person was so distraught that he could barely get any words out. Finally, he managed to describe his plight. “I sell honey, and another person just opened the same business. This new competitor is threatening my entire parnassa (livelihood)!” He asked Reb Ahrele to speak with his new competitor and convince him not to open his store.

Reb Ahrele replied: “There are seven thousand Jewish families in Jerusalem. Don’t you think there should be enough business for two honey dealers? Is this problem so serious that you must cry like this? Besides, is the honey giving you parnassa or his Hashem giving you parnassa? This is not why you are crying,” Reb Ahrele explained. “I will tell you why you are crying so bitterly. It is because your neshama needs help!”

When the person heard these words, he started crying even more bitterly than before. He painfully admitted that his neshama needs urgent help and begged Reb Ahrele to show him how to do tshuva. “I am prepared to do anything, to fast and inflict myself, but please cleanse my soul!” he cried.

“There is no need to fast or inflict yourself,” Reb Ahrele assured him, “just make sure to come daven in our shul.”

The Jew could not understand what he just heard. He new good and well how low he had fallen, so how could Reb Ahrele say that all he needed to do was to come daven with him? But still, he started coming each day and he began to daven properly, with full intensity, along with the other exalted Chassidim in shul. Before long, this person grew spiritually and became an upright, pious Jew.

A similar concept is brought down in the name of Rebbe Hersh of Zidichov zt”l, who writes: When a Jew comes to a tzaddik and complains about his mundane problems, at the same time the person’s soul is also unburdening itself to the tzaddik and begging for help.

The same applies to the leper. When the leper came to the Kohen, the tzaddik, he saw his physical tzaraas(leprosy), but at the same time he also saw the leprosy on his soul. The word “vehuva” is comprised of two words: “vehu ba – and he comes.” The body is independent and comes by itself, but the soul cannot come by itself to the tzaddik. The soul is confined within the body and has no way of reaching the tzaddik on its own. When the body is inflicted with leprosy, then he comes to the tzaddik and thereby “vehu ba” the neshamaautomatically gets brought along to the Kohen. Due to the physical problem, the neshama has the chance to appear before the tzaddik and be helped.

This is why the Torah tells us that during the purification the leper had to take two birds – one was for the leprosy of the body and the other one for the soul.


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