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Sukkat Shalom B'nei Noach



The Torah portion of Metzorah deals with the spiritual affliction called Tzara’as that can affect a person’s skin, clothing, or house. During leap years, like this year, we usually read Metzorah prior to Passover. Is there a connection?

Rabbi Eliezer Breitowitz points out that, indeed, our sages teach that the skin affliction of Tzara’as was generally caused by improper speech. The Torah helps the Metzorah understand the power of speech by requiring that each stage of his affliction be dependent on the declaration of the priest. He would only be sent out of the camp after the priest examined his skin and pronounced him impure. And he would only be allowed back into the camp after being examined by the priest who would announce that he was pure.

The focus of the holiday of Passover is to tell the story of our exodus from Egypt 3300+ years ago. The famous Kabbalist, the Ari HaKadosh, explained that the meaning of the Hebrew name of this holiday, Pesach is composed of the words Peh (mouth) and Sach (speaks)!

In order to properly and successfully tell over and communicate the Exodus experience, we have to make sure our mouths are purified from improper speech. That’s why the chapter of Metzorah, dealing with the purification of those stricken for negative speech, is such an appropriate theme to study before the holiday of Passover.

In addition, Rabbi Breitowitz points out that our slavery in Egypt was rooted in Joseph’s derogatory reports about his brothers’ behavior toward their father. This was part of what led to their resentment toward him and eventually selling him as a slave to Egypt. If Lashon Hara (negative speech) could cause our exile – repairing and purifying our speech can bring about our redemption.

By Rabbi Michael Skobac

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