Most of the parshah of Tazria tells us the laws of diagnosing and quarantining a metzora (leper).

It begins that if a person notices a white patch develop on his skin, he should be brought before a Kohen, and only a Kohen can pronounce a person ritually impure on account of tzaraat. If the Kohen sees that hair inside the patch changed from its original color to white or that the white patch appears “deeper” than the skin around it,1 it is definitely tzaraat, and he pronounces the person ritually impure. If, however, he doesn't see one of these signs, the Kohen will quarantine the person for seven days.

On the seventh day, the Kohen reexamines the person. If he sees one of the signs or if the patch became bigger, he is pronounced impure. If it becomes smaller or darker than the usual shades of tzaraat,2 it is not tzaraat. If it is the same as it was during the first examination, the Kohen quarantines him for another seven days.

On the seventh day,3 the Kohen reexamines him as before, and the same rules apply, except that this time, if the patch remains the same, it is not tzaraat, and he is pronounced ritually pure.

In a case that the Kohen determined that it was indeed not tzaraat, the person must wash his clothes and go to the mikvah, and he is pure. Even though he is not a metzora, he was considered impure, but at a lesser level of impurity.

A Fresh Start Regarding a Healthy Patch

The Torah then seems to continue with these laws, but for some reason, starts with a verse, as if it is beginning a new subject: "If a person has a patch of [what appears to be] tzaraat, he is brought to the Kohen."4 Then the Torah continues with more details about diagnosing a metzora. Scripture adds that if some skin within the white patch appears fresh, like normal skin, it is another sign that it is definitely tzaraat, an old patch of tzaraat on which fresh skin started to grow. We then read that if the patch spread over the entire body (everywhere the Kohen can see) he is pronounced ritually pure. Later, if fresh skin appears somewhere on his body, the Kohen will pronounce him impure, because his whole body isn't completely covered.

Why does the Torah start this as if it is a new subject? Why didn't it continue with something like, "And if the Kohen sees fresh skin"? Indeed, this is what is done in the following verse, "And if the tzaraat erupts on the skin, that the tzaraat covers all the skin with the patch, from his head until his feet, wherever the eyes of the Kohen can see, the Kohen examines it, if it covers all his skin, he pronounces the patch ritually pure, if it all turned white, he is pure."5

There is even a break in the Torah before and after these laws, indicating that it is a separate subject. If it is just adding more details about tzaraat, it is not a new subject. There must be something very unique here that the Torah deems it necessary to begin a new subject. What is the new idea that we learn from here?

To understand this, let us look at another difficulty in this passage.

The verse says, "If it all turned white, he is ritually pure." The Torat Kohanim6 (and the Rambam7) say that this verse only applies when the Kohen first pronounced him ritually impure, and then it spread all over. But if the person appears before the Kohen initially, and it covers his entire body, or after he was already pronounced ritually pure it then spread all over, he is deemed impure.

Rashi, however, who explains the simple meaning of the verse, doesn't mention this, leading us to believe that no matter the circumstance, "If it all turned white," he is pure.

Torat Kohanim and the Rambam tell us the law. Rashi, on the other hand, doesn't come to teach us the final law, rather to teach us the simple meaning of the verse. It is common that the law is different from the simple meaning. The Torah has many levels of interpretation. There is the simple meaning, the legal, the esoteric, and more. They each teach us something unique, connecting us to different aspects of our lives. So it is OK if they disagree with each other. However, when we see this kind of disagreement, we have to ask: What are the underlying factors of this disagreement? And what can we learn from them?

The Torat Kohanim and the Rambam look at the legal aspect of the verse. All of the laws of purity and impurity are biblical decrees. Since we do not understand them, we don't use logic to infer anything else from them, and we apply the law exactly as written.

Since the law of "If it all turned white," comes right after the law regarding when fresh skin appears within a white patch, the Kohen pronounces him ritually impure, we must conclude that only after he is pronounced impure and then it spreads all over, is he pure.

Rashi, on the other hand, is explaining the simple meaning. According to the simple meaning, the reason that "If it all turned white" is pure, is because of logical reasoning: Now that it spread all over his body, we recognize that it is not tzaraat, rather the natural condition of his skin. That is why he is pure, as it was never tzaraat to begin with.

Now we can understand why it is a new subject. It is teaching us about a case that was never tzaraat to begin with. Since it has nothing to do with tzaraat, it is a new subject.

When The World Will Turn to Heresy

This will help us understand something that the Talmud says:8 "[Moshiach] the son of David won't come until all the kingdoms will turn over to heresy. Rava asks, What is the verse [that proves this point]? 'If it all turned white, he is ritually pure.'" Rashi9 explains, "Just as with a patch that spread all over the skin, when all the kingdoms will turn over to heresy, redemption will come."

This Talmudic passage is also found where the Talmud10 tells us signs that we are in "ikvita d'meshicha," the time just before the arrival of Moshiach.

Why will Moshiach come when the whole world will become heretical? There are two ways to understand this, in line with the two approaches to "If it all turned white," that it is either a biblical decree or a logical reasoning.

The first way of looking at it is that things will be so bad that there will be no choice but for G‑d to send Moshiach. Just like a super-rational Divine decree, it is from the top down, descending directly from G‑d without our human input.

The second way of looking at it is that the whole world becoming heretical is a point of clarity, when they will all recognize that they have nothing to do with G‑d, and it will become clear that only we do. Moshiach will then come and they will want to learn from us. Therefore, we will have a tremendous effect on the world, inspiring everyone to serve G‑d together, as it says, "For then I will convert the nations to a pure language that all of them call in the name of G‑d, to worship Him of one accord."11 This is from the bottom up, from human understanding.

This is similar to what the Talmud12 says about the Jewish people, "[Moshiach] the son of David won't come but in a generation that everybody is deserving or that everybody is undeserving. In a generation that everybody is deserving, as it says, 'And your nation are all righteous, they will forever inherit the land.'13 In a generation that everybody is undeserving, as it says, 'And He saw that there was no [righteous] man, and He was astounded that there was no one to intercede.'14 And it says, 'For My sake, for My sake I will do.'"15

The Rambam16 rules that, "The Torah assures us that in the end Israel will do teshuvah, (repentance), at the end of their exile, and they will be redeemed immediately." Meaning that we will do teshuvah of our own volition,17 and we will be deserving.

We can conclude that the nations of the world, because of our influence as a light onto them by teaching them what G‑d wants (that they keep the Seven Mitzvot that were given to the Children of Noah) they will deserve it too. They will help to us in completing our mission.

This will surely hasten the coming of Moshiach. May he come soon.18