The haftarah for Metzora (and Tazria-Metzorah, when they are together) from II Kings1 is part of a string of miracles done by our prophet Elisha.

The setting of the haftarah is that Ben Hadad, the king of Aram, gathered his whole army and laid siege around the city of Shomron (Samaria), the capital of the Northern Tribes of Israel. Aram didn’t allow food into the city, and the people were starving. King Achav of Israel wanted to kill Elisha because he was certain that Elisha could remedy the situation by praying to G‑d, and he wasn’t.2 When he came to Elisha, the prophet told him that on one day, a se’ah of flour or two se’ah of barley will sell for a shekel. The king’s officer scoffed at the words of Elisha, saying: “Even if G‑d made windows in the sky, could such a thing happen?” The prophet replied: “You will see it with your eyes, but you will not eat of it.”3

In the haftarah of Tazria, we read about how Elisha miraculously cured Naaman, the commander of Aram’s army, from tzaraat (leprosy). Elisha refused to take any payment, but his servant Gechazi chased after Naaman and took his money. Elisha told Gechazi that because of what he did, he would now be afflicted with Naaman’s tzaraat.4

The week’s haftarah opens with four metzora’im (a metzora is someone afflicted with tzaraat), who are identified as Gechazi and his three sons.

The four metzora’im were outside the city because a metzora is not permitted to go into the city. They reasoned: There is no food in the city so there’s no use going there, and staying here is futile because we will starve to death. Let’s go to Aram's camp; maybe there we’ll get something to eat. When they came to the camp, it was deserted. G‑d had made a miracle—the soldiers of Aram had heard sounds of a great army descending upon them, and they panicked. Aram left everything behind and fled.

This was an opportunity for Gechazi to do teshuvah by not taking Aram’s loot for himself, as he took Naaman’s money earlier. At first, he made a move for the money, but then he came to his senses.

The metzora’im went and notified the guards at the city’s gate, who notified the king. The king had some riders check it out and when they confirmed that it was true, the people went and found so much food in the camp that a se’ah of flour sold for a shekel, and two se’ahs of barley sold for a shekel, just as Elisha said.

The king’s officer who scoffed at the words of Elisha was appointed to stand by the city’s gate. In the people’s haste rushing to get food, they trampled the officer, and he died. 5 He saw the food but couldn’t eat from it, just as Elisha said.6

Finding Redemption

The connection to our parshah is that (Tazria and) Metzora speak about the metzora. The haftarah tells the story of the four metzora’im. And the comparison teaches us that even in the case of a metzora, there is good to be found and accomplished.

The theme of the haftarah is the miraculous sudden change from darkness and captivity to light and redemption. And this is a lesson to us that Moshiach will also come suddenly and miraculously.

Most years, Tazria and Metzora are read together, and when they are, this haftarah is read. Metzora speaks about the purification process of the metzora, which could be seen as a redemption of sorts. It also tells us that when tzaraat afflicted a house, the affected area had to be knocked down. Rashi7 tells us that the Emorites hid their valuables in the walls of their homes, and when we conquered them, G‑d put tzaraat on the walls that had treasures hidden in them. When the walls were demolished, the hidden treasures would be revealed. This can be seen as a redemption as well.

However, Tazria begins with pregnancy and birth, and then it goes into the details of diagnosis of a metzora. We must conclude that somehow Tazria is also about redemption. How is this possible?

In the Talmud is a discussion about Moshiach. The rabbis say that he is the Metzorah of the House of Rebbi.8 Here, we see another connection between a Metzorah and Moshiach.

As mentioned above, Tazria speaks about pregnancy and birth. This exile is compared to a pregnancy, and the suffering we endure is the pain associated with pregnancy. Now, at the end of the exile, it has become unbearable; this is the pain of labor. But soon, Moshiach will come. Like a baby that is born, we realize that it was all worth it. Redemption.

Tazria means “to plant.” That is what the exile is about. Our hard work, pain and suffering during the exile are what bring about the redemption, when we will reap the fruits of our labor.

The same is true about tzaraat. Of course, tzaraat is a horrible affliction, which was brought on by speaking badly of another. But getting tzaraat was not the end; rather, it was the beginning of a process of becoming a better person. He would be sent out of the city and sit alone,9 which gave him time to think about what he did and work on himself to become a new person. When he was healed, it, too, was the birth of a new person and a redemption.

We each have our own ailments. Working on ourselves to become better is like planting seeds, and the reward for your hard work is a personal redemption.

May our efforts to better ourselves—especially in our service to G‑d, by adding in Torah and mitzvahs—bring the ultimate redemption, the coming of Moshiach. May he come soon!