Haftarah for Metzora

Four lepers save the Israelite camp.

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Connection to the Parashah

The name of this week's parashah, Metzora, means "leper." The parashah describes the process for ritual cleansing after one is afflicted with leprosy--a skin disease which the Bible also considers a spiritual affliction, and therefore different from what we call leprosy today.

According to the Torah, lepers must separate from the community: "As for the person with a leprous affection, his clothes shall be rent, his head shall be left bare, and he shall cover over his upper lip, and he shall call out 'Unclean! Unclean'…He shall dwell apart, his dwelling shall be outside the camp" (Leviticus 13:45-46).

In our haftarah, we see that even though lepers are separate from the community--indeed, the four lepers were at first situated outside the city gates--they can, and should, still feel communal responsibility. Instead of resenting their outsider status, the four lepers choose to share the news of the wealth they had found and were therefore instrumental in saving Israel from starvation.

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