The parshiyot of Tazri’a and Metzora deal with the laws of tzara’at (conventionally translated as “leprosy”): the diagnosis of the symptoms of this disease which incurs a state of ritual impurity; how to deal with those afflicted by it; and the procedures of purification following its cure.

The Talmud states that Moshiach is called “chivara-the leper”(Sanhedrin 98b). This is rather astonishing and seems to contradict the Biblical description of Moshiach: “My servant shall be wise, exalted and lofty, and shall be very high” (Isaiah 52:13). From this verse we know that he will be the wisest of men, an extraordinary prophet, second only to Moses (and in many respects more exalted than Moses), greater than the patriarchs, and of a stature exceeding that of all kings before him. Thus, we must conclude that there is a deeper meaning to his being called chivara.

First of all, tzara’at is a disease of the skin. It is not an internal ailment, nor is the body per se affected. It is an external malady, indicated by a change of color in the skin.

Now, throughout the course of our lengthy galut (exile), the Jewish people have been involved with Torah-study and mitzvot. Every effort has been made to have good triumph over evil, and to bring light into the darkness of the galut. Thus we have already succeeded in healing the “internal malady” of the galut. At present, with the conclusion of the galut, there remains but a minor and strictly external disease-“on the skin of his body” (Tazri’a 13:2ff.). It is up to the generation which merits the very end of the galut and the beginning of the redemption to bring about the correction and healing of this final stage.

Moshiach, the redeemer, suffers the agonies and pains of these last days of the galut, the “disease of tzara’at.” For Moshiach waits anxiously and impatiently to redeem his generation the moment it completes the cure for the minor affliction that remains. As long as he is unable to do so and the galut continues, Moshiach personally suffers the pains of this tzara’at, the agony of the last days of the galut.

In this context, the second parshah begins: “This is the teaching concerning the one afflicted with tzara’at on the day of his purification...” (Metzora 14:2). This refers to the day of the redemption:

For as long as the galut persists, Moshiach is called chivara (afflicted with tzara’at). He himself is essentially pure and perfect, and his affliction merely reflects the condition of galut. The very moment of the redemption, when Moshiach will be revealed and his real being and righteousness will become manifest to all, that is “the day of his purification.”

The redemption will demonstrate how in Moshiach is fulfilled the verse, “the leprous mark has healed in the one afflicted by it” (Metzora 14:3).