The first section of Parshas Metzora details the tahara (purification regimen) of a Metzora Muchlat - one who is affected with the more stringent type of Tzora'as.
Among the many unusual features of the tahara of a Metzora Muchlat are the eight-day length of the entire regimen, culminating with an elaborate sacrificial service which includes the sprinkling of oil (by a Kohen) toward the Kodesh Ha-Kodoshim seven times, the application of blood from the Metzora's Korban Asham (Guilt Offering) and oil (all done by a Kohen) on the Metzora's right ear, right thumb and large right toe, and the subsequent placing (by a Kohen) of oil on the Metzora's head.
These procedures, as unusual as they may be, are not unique to a Metzora. We find that the Yom Kippur Avodah (Service) also features the sprinkling (of blood) seven times by a Kohen toward the Kodesh Ha-Kodoshim. Additionally, the Miluim (Inauguration) of the Kohanim in Parshas Tzav is strikingly similar to the tahara of a Metzora Muchlat, for the Miluim likewise consisted of a seven-day process which culminated on the eighth day, and they involved the application of blood from a korban to the right ear, right thumb and large right toe of each Kohen, and the subsequent application of oil to the Kohanim.
It is difficult to ignore the above striking similarities. Is there a connection between the tahara of a Metzora Muchlat and the Avodas Yom Ha-Kippurim and the Miluim?
The Miluim as well as the Yom Kippur Avodah represent entry to God's sanctum. The Miluim served as the conditioning and sanctification of the Kohanim to perform Avodah, raising them to the requisite level and endowing upon them the special status necessary to be stationed in the Mishkan/Mikdash to approach Hashem and perform His Service. The Miluim were an induction into kedusha (holiness) and granted the Kohanim license to enter the Kodesh for Avodah and perform it. Avodas Yom Ha-Kippurim shares this motif from a different perspective, representing Man drawing extremely close to God and entering the most holy locus on earth to stand before the Shechinah and become purified.
With this in mind, let's return to the Metzora. After living outside the city in complete isolation for a long period, barred from interaction with society, the Metzora finally undergoes tahara and can rejoin the community. One would expect this to be an occasion of massive relief for the Metzora, as his discomfort and isolation are finally over; the Metzora is like one being freed from forced exile, liberated at last.
However, in truth, this picture of the Metzora's liberation is totally inaccurate. The reality is that a Metzora's return to society, his city and home, as enabled by the tahara process, reflect the Metzora's teshuva - his sincere repentance and personality change from that of an offender to that of a humbled individual who heeds the Will of Hashem and has purged himself of the negative characteristics which brought Tzora'as on him in the first place. A purified Metzora is not simply freed from the yoke of isolation and allowed to return to his old self. On the contrary, a purified Metzora enters a new covenant with Hashem and enters a society which he now knows must be treated from a perspective of holiness and submission to God's mandate. The Metzora's return to the community, marked by his tahara, are a dedication and elevation of the Metzora to be a person of God and to truly reflect His image by his new personality and reformed ways. The society from which the Metzora was banned must be to him like a Mishkan and Mikdash which he is finally privileged to enter, with the understanding that he will comport himself therein with utmost respect and deference. Just as the Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur enters the Kodesh Ha-Kodoshim in awe to effect expiation for the people, and just as the Kohanim upon the occasion of the Miluim were dedicated and elevated to enter the Mishkan as Kohanim with the merit to draw near to Hashem via the Avodah, the Metzora who undergoes tahara must view his personal purification and re-entry to society as one who is redeemed and privileged to enter a holy congregation, where he will be a new person and treat his surroundings with reverence and submission to God's Will. The purified Metzora is not returning to his old community as an emancipated exile; rather, he is entering God's national sanctum, where his daily life must be a holy Avodah. This is the special comparison of the Metzora's tahara with Yom Kippur and the Miluim.
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