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Haftarah: Metzorah: There Is A Prophet In Israel

Kings II 7:3-20: This selection is one in a series of stories about the king of Israel and the Man of the Lord, both of whom are nameless in these chapters. The theme of the series is voiced by Elisha the prophet,

the Man of the Lord to Jehoram, King of Israel as, “He will know that there is a prophet in Israel.” (Kings II 5:8)

In our story, the capital of the Ten Tribes, Shomron, is under siege by the armies of Aram. People are starving, and the king, in a fit of frustration upon hearing that women are actually killing and eating their children, orders his right hand man to kill Elisha, the “cause” of all the troubles.

The king did not bother to ask the prophet for help, or even to pray. He only considered Elisha when he was desperate to lash out. He refused to acknowledge God’s hand in his current situation.

Elisha was prepared for his executor, and promises a great miracle just as the man enters his home. The man ridicules Elisha’s prophecy, and Elisha predicts that the miracle will happen, but the man will not benefit. In fact, “The people trampled him in the gateway” as they were storming out of the city to get the promised food, “and he died.” The Talmud uses this part of the story to prove the principle of “Midah K’neged Midah,” we create our realities.

The “Four men, metzoraim,” who introduce our Haftarah, are Metzoraim, and may not enter the city because of their affliction. They are the key to the miracle. The four, are Gechazi, Elisha’s former student, and his children, punished by Elisha for their rejection of God’s active and present Hand in all that happens.

Four people who rejected the notion of God’s Hand, save a king, who rejects the same idea, and all are compelled to acknowledge God’s active involvement in all that happens. They see that truly “There is a prophet in Israel,” who can teach them about God.

The Metzorah in our portion, secluded from society, is also forced to acknowledge God’s Hand and repent. It is the only way that he can be healed from his spiritual disease manifesting as Tzara’at. His suffering is self-created, as are so may of our realities, “Midah K’neged Midah.” The Sages explain that the Metzorah cut himself off from the community by being a gossip. His disease is only a manifestation of his own actions.

We are not currently blessed with an Elisha or the gift of Tzara’at. However, “Midah K’neged Midah,” can guide us, who believe in God’s active involvement, in evaluating our lives and service of God. We yearn for, “there is a prophet in Israel.” Until then we will have to, in the words of the Vilna Gaon, “use the Divine Inspiration that is inherent in our Godly soul.”

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