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Metzorah: Meshech Chochmah: Unfinished Atonement

“And the rest of the oil that is on the Kohen’s palm, he shall place upon the head of the person being purified; to provide him atonement – lichaper alav –  before God (Vayikra 14:29).” Compare this to the verse that describes the process of the offering of a wealthy person: “And the Kohen shall provide him atonement – vichiper alav – and he becomes pure (Verse 20).” “Lichaper,” of the poor person implies to “help him in his process of becoming pure; he still has more to do.


One of the causes of Tzara’at is arrogance. The arrogance of a wealthy person is considered more natural, and needs less to achieve atonement. However, the person who has nothing; no spiritual achievements or anything “reason” or accomplishments to make him arrogant, has a deeper arrogance that demands more inner work to achieve atonement. We must examine the source of our arrogance so that we may evaluate the degree of work necessary to achieve atonement for an attribute that leads God to say, “He and I cannot live together in the world!”

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