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Vavei Ha’amudim: Metzora – Blemish in the Skin

The 28th of Nissan is the Yahrtzeit of Rav Shabsai Sheftl Horowitz II (1590-1660). The son of the Shelah Hakodesh, Reb Shabsai studied under his father and under Rav Shlomo Ephraim Lunshitz. After his father left

for Eretz Yisrael, he became dayan of Prague. He then became Rav of Fuerth, then Frankfurt am Main, then Posen, where he founded a yeshiva. In 1654, he was appointed Rav of Vienna. In 1649, he published his father’s work, Shnei Luchos HaBris, along with his own extensive introduction, Vavei HaAmudim.

The vestments for the Kohanim were to be for “dignity and adornement.” These were to symbolize the Garments of Light, which Adam and Eve wore before they had to exchange them for Garments of Skin, after the sin. Onkelos translates “Garments of Skin” as “Precious Garments.” (Genesis 3:21) At first glance, it seems that Onkelos equates Garments of Light with Garments of Skin and the Priestly Garments.

There is a mystical dimension to this comparison, which is rooted in, “as the advantage of light over darkness.” (Ecclesiastes 3:13) The message there is that God makes purity emerge even out of impurity. This is the case with the Metzorah who has impurity in his Garment of Skin, who will repent and be purified.

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