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Tazria – Metzora: Chatter Like a Sparrow

In Aramaic, tzara’at is called sgiru, (Unkelos) cognate to sgirah (closing). It points to the imperviousness of the heart and mind, the result of evil speech. The gossiper has entered a negative framework (misgeret, cognate to sgiru), which is an emotional state resistant to change and rectification.

The beginning of healing is when the priest seals off (masgir, cognate to closing-sgirah) the leper. This sealing off is performed with conscious initiative, as it is God’s way to “heal bitterness with bitterness”.

One may think that the rectification for a person who has transgressed and spoken forbidden speech would be to completely forgo speech, a “speaking fast”. At first, the leper does, indeed, have to limit his speech, with the guidance of the priest. He must speak only holy words with intentional consciousness and refrain from mundane chatter, while working on his inner senses. Ultimately, however, the leper brings a sparrow, which constantly chatters, as his purity offering. This alludes to the fact that he may now speak freely. He has reached rectified natural consciousness, as is written, “"פטטיא דאורייתא טבין" (”Torah-based chatterings are good”).

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