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Why the Metzora Needs Two Birds

by Chaim Kramer

The process to purify a person stricken with leprosy requires two birds, part of a cedar tree, and hyssop leaves.

Let us focus on the two birds. The Midrash teaches, “Why is the purification of the metzora dependent upon two birds? Let the voice (birds chirping and singing) come and effect forgiveness for the voice (which spoke slander! the punishment of which is leprosy).”

Why two birds? Kabbalistically, the two birds represent the Divine Persona of Zer Anpin and Malkhut, which correspond to voice and speech. They also symbolize the two cherubs that were on the Holy ark. The cherubs were the source of prophecy, and the person who desired spirituality was able to draw a spirit of holiness upon himself – through song and holy speech. Conversely, the voice of profanity and slander also has its origin in two birds, but “birds of a different feather.”

The difference between the two sets of birds is that through holiness, one has the powers of prophecy and true sight with which to live a good life, one that brings him closer to HaShem. With false prophecies, with false presentation of the goals of life, there are leaders who seem to be influencers but can advise people to take a wrongful path in life.

You want a good life, a pure life, one you can enjoy and live morally? Then we require the voice and speech of holiness, of good encouraging words, to guide us on the correct path. We require it; we must learn to avoid slander and profanity, mockery, and falsehood.

Think for a moment. The human body has two sides, right and left. Two eyes, two ears, arms, legs, two chambers of the heart and lungs, and so on. There are only two organs that are dead center on the body: the mouth and the genitals. One whose mouth is clean will be able to live morally clean. The same applies if one keeps his morals clean; he will have a clean mouth. Otherwise, a blemish of one is a blemish of the other.

Let us hope we learn the lesson of purity from “these birds” and merit a pure life. Amen.

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