Parshat Metzora Summary

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Parshat Metzora is the 5th parsha in Sefer Vayikra (also known as Leviticus).

This parsha is verses Leviticus 14:1 – 15:33, or a total of 90 verses.

Here is a brief summary for each aliyah.

In the previous parsha (Tazria) we learned a lot about the affliction “tzara’at.” A person afflicted with tzara’at is called a “metzora.” This parsha begins with the purification ritual for a metzora after the tzara’at has healed.

Metzora is often combined with Parshat Tazria.

Aliyah 1: Leviticus 14:1 – 14:12, 12 verses

A priest examines the metzora whose affliction of tzara’at has healed. After the priest declares that the tzara’at has healed the person is ready to be “purified.”

There are numerous steps in the first day of the purification ritual:

  • The metzora brings 2 live kosher birds, some cedar wood, a crimson thread, and some hyssop
  • They also bring an earthenware vessel filled with spring water
  • One bird is slaughtered over the spring water
  • The live bird is dipped in the water and blood
  • The priest sprinkles the metzora 7 times with the water and blood mixture
  • The live bird is released into the wild
  • The metzora dips his clothing in a mikvah
  • The metzora shaves off all of his hair
  • The metzora immerses in a mikvah
  • The metzora lives for the next 7 days in the Jewish camp, but outside his home

Here is what is done of the seventh day of the purification ritual:

  • The metzora shaves off all of his hair
  • He dips his clothing in a mikvah
  • He immerses himself in a mikvah

On the 8th day the metzora brings two sheep and one ewe as offerings. He also brings a meal (wheat) offering and some oil.

The priest offers one sheep as a guilt offering.

Aliyah 2: Leviticus 14:13 – 14:20, 8 verses

The priest takes some of the blood of the guilt offering and places it on the right ear, thumb, and big toe of the metzora.

The priest also places some of the oil on the same parts of the metzora’s body.

The other sheep is brought as a sin offering. The ewe is brought as a burnt offering.

Aliyah 3: Leviticus 14:21 – 14:32, 12 verses

The offerings mentioned in reading 2 above may be too expensive for a metzora.

The metzora without enough money brings only one sheep and two birds. The sheep is a guilt offering. One bird is a sin offering and the other a burnt offering.

Aliyah 4: Leviticus 14:33 – 14:53, 21 verses

After describing tzara’at in people and clothing, the Torah discusses tzara’at in houses.

The person who suspects that there is tzara’at in his house asks a priest to examine the house. The priest requires the person to remove all of belongings from the house.

In a house tzara’at appears as a green or red “stain” that looks like it is deep in the stones of the wall.

After examining the house, the priest seals it for seven days. He returns to examine the house again on the 7th day.

If the affliction has spread, the priest orders the afflicted stones to be removed. These stones are replaced with new ones. Also the affected plaster and mortar are removed and replaced.

Sometimes after these steps the tzara’at continues to spread in the house. Then the house must be demolished.

If the tzara’at does not spread after the stones were removed, then the priest declares the house to be pure. A purification ceremony similar to the purification of a metzora is performed.

parshat metzora summary

  • The owner brings 2 live kosher birds, some cedar wood, a crimson thread, and some hyssop
  • They also bring an earthenware vessel filled with spring water
  • One bird is slaughtered over the spring water
  • The live bird is dipped in the water and blood
  • The priest sprinkles the house 7 times with the water and blood mixture
  • The live bird is released into the wild

This concludes the Torah’s discussion of tzara’at.

Aliyah 5: Leviticus 14:54 – 15:15, 19 verses

A Jewish man can have a discharge from his male organ that is similar to semen, but different.

A man who has one discharge has the status of a “baal keri.” He immerses in a mikvah and is pure after sunset. There are more details about the baal keri in reading #6.

A man who has two discharges has the status of a zav. He counts 7 days after his discharge. He then immerses his clothing and his body in spring water.

A man who has three discharges also has the status of a zav. He immerses after 7 days without a discharge. On the 8th day he brings two birds, one for a sin offering and one for a burnt offering.

Aliyah 6: Leviticus 15:16 – 15:28, 13 verses

A man who has a discharge of semen becomes a baal keri. He immerses in a mikvah and is pure after sunset. Also, a women that he had relations with must also immerse in a mikvah.

A woman who has her regular period has the status of “niddah.” This status lasts for seven days. At the end of the seven days she immerses in a mikvah and becomes pure after sunset.

A woman may also experience a discharge apart from her normal period. If this type of discharge lasts for only one or two days she then has the status of a “minor zavah.”

If the discharge lasts for three or more days her status of called “major zavah.”

The zavah counts seven days after her discharge ends. She then immerses in a mikvah.

Aliyah 7: Leviticus 15:29 – 15:33, 5 verses

If she was a major zavah, then she also brings two birds to the priest. The priest offers one bird as a sin offering and the other bird as a burnt offering.

NOTE: Leviticus Chapter 15 is the Torah basis for the laws of family purity (in Hebrew, taharat hamishpacha). For various reasons, the current practical application of these principles is more involved than can be indicated in this short summary.

Haftarah Summary

2 Kings 7:3 – 20
The haftarah tells the story of four metzoraim (plural of metzora) living outside of a besieged city. They discover that the besieging army has fled. They inform the people of the city that the siege is over.

Further Reading

Here is another article based on Parshat Metzora: What is Tumah and Why You Should Care.

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