This week’s double Parsha of Tazria–Metzora deals with the various laws of ritual purity and impurity. A most prominent cause for ritual impurity was a mysterious skin condition that could manifest itself on a person’s body in various ways. There is no accurate English translation to the condition so I will refer to it by its biblical name Tzaraat.
The unfortunate individual diagnosed with tzaraat was subject to the highest level of ritual impurity, banished from the community until the condition healed and underwent a lengthy process of purification. A miraculous skin disorder that served to correct certain spiritual illnesses and applied only when the Holy Temple stood in Jerusalem.
Nevertheless, we can learn relevant lessons in our daily lives from the laws of tzaraat.
To properly diagnose this disorder as tzaraat, one needed to be proficient in all of its complex and detailed laws. Yet even after the sage determined that this fellow suffered from this malady, only a Kohen – a member of the priestly family of Aharon – had the authority to pronounce the condition as tzaraat and the leper as a Metzorah. The ritual impurity of tzaraat only took effect after the Kohen’s pronouncement.
The ritual impurity of the Metzorah was so severe that he or she was quarantined from the community until the condition healed. Such a harsh reality cannot be implemented based on cold logic alone. Only a Kohen, a blood descendant of Aharon the High Priest, the paragon of selfless love for every Jew, can make such a pronouncement. Only one who truly loves his fellow Jew can identify the evil in another and begin the process of healing.
So when you notice someone that needs correction, first identify where your perspective is coming from. Are you genuinely concerned for the welfare of another? Do you have their best interest in mind? Are you approaching this with a “holier than thou” attitude? Once you have answered these questions, you are empowered and obligated to change someone’s life for the better.