"This shall be the law of the leper on the day of his
purification, and he shall be brought to the Kohen"
The Torah relegated the whole future of the leper to the
hands of the Kohen. He must examine the lesion; his is
the crucial decision. His word purifies or deems impure. This
teaches us that the proper treatment of the sin of the leper
can only be implemented through the Kohen. We know
that leprous lesions [meaning tzora'as] are a result
of and punishment for loshon hora. If so, then the
suitable antidote must come, precisely, via the Kohen.
Why is this so?
The Sheloh Hakodosh and the Chasam Sofer reveal an inkling of
the enigma of the esoteric wisdom of the Torah. The Sheloh
writes: "If there shall be in a man, in the skin of his flesh
— the raiments of priesthood are designed for honor and
glory, and they resemble the tunics of light that replace the
tunics of leather."
These concise, mystic words of the Sheloh are quoted and
elaborated upon by the Chasam Sofer in his work Toras
Moshe. "Hashem made leather clothing for Odom and Chava
and garbed them therewith. Onkelos translates the term
`leather clothing' as `garments of dignity.' Odom sublimated
the leather and purified it until they became `garments of
light' [a play on the word or, spelled with
alef or ayin]. They became precious garments.
The same wording is used describing the bigdei kehuna:
`And they shall make holy raiment - - comments Onkelos
— garments of dignity.'
"This sinner, who was punished with leprosy, failed not only
in transforming the `leather garments,' that is, his own
clothing, into `garments of light,' garments to enhance the
divine image of man, but he even mutilated his own flesh
through the consequences of his evil speech, causing it to be
afflicted with leprosy. Let him, therefore, take a lesson
from Aharon HaKohen and see the difference between the
He, the sinner, abused the skin-covering of his flesh and
contaminated it. Whereas Aharon HaKohen perfected himself and
purified himself to a level where he merited raiments of
dignity and glory. Even his sons, all future kohanim,
merited this by virtue of their ancestor's virtue and
holiness, yet their purity is ongoing, sustained, whereas he,
the sinner, defiled his own very skin."
The Chasam Sofer transports us to a deeper level of
understanding. He reveals before us the long-range
implications of every worthy deed and, conversely, every sin.
Each act makes an impression. Each act leaves its mark
— not only upon the soul but even upon a person's body.
Just like a good deed purifies the soul, so does it cleanse
the physical body of a person. He becomes more refined, more
spiritual and less grossly material. On the other hand, not
only does sin pollute the soul, but it even leaves an imprint
upon the body. It leaves it crass and coarse.
After Odom Horishon sinned by eating from the Eitz
Hadaas, he was clothed with leather garments that Hashem
fashioned for him. His own epidermis needed repair, a
tikkun, since the sin had defiled and contaminated
him. The leather tunics were designed to restore his origin
aura. Chazal say that in R' Meir's sefer the word
or (which is spelled in our sifrei Torah with
an ayin) was spelled with an alef. These first
leather garments were supposed to help Man regain the glow
his body had once radiated as the handiwork of Hashem. This
is why Onkelos translates kosnos or as `garments of
We encounter the same translation with regard to the priestly
raiment. "Garments of holiness — garments of dignity,"
for the kohanim were uplifted and purified through
wearing them to such a degree that the impact filtered from
their souls to their bodies, which radiated with holy light.
To signify this, the Torah designates them as garments of
dignity and glory. "Thus shall be done to the man whom the
king/King desires to honor."
This is why the atonement for the leper must come about
through the Kohen. The Torah is a Torah of life.
Punishment for sins is not revenge, G-d forbid, but rather
reparation and repair. "Good and straightforward is Hashem;
therefore does He guide the sinners on the path'
(Tehillim 25:8). `You have shown the path of
repentance to the wayward daughter.'
Thus, if a person sinned with his mouth and lips to such a
degree that his skin becomes blemished with leprosy, he is
shown the righteous path by the Torah so that he may mend his
way. "This shall be the law of the leper, and he shall be
brought to the Kohen." Go to the Kohen and you
will see the disparity between you. Fulfill with your soul
what was written: `And you shall return and you shall see the
difference between righteous and sinner, between one who
serves Hashem and one who did not serve Him.' Look, regard
the Kohen, and contemplate how he has purified himself
to such a degree that even his corporal body has absorbed the
impact that holiness has made upon him. The refinement of his
deeds has left an impression even upon his very flesh and
blood. His body has become clarified, purer, finer and,
consequently, more dignified. This is testified to by the
raiment of glory and dignity which garb him.
In contrast, how lowly are you, the sinner, you who spoke
forbidden talk and did not bear in mind what is written, "Do
not allow your mouth to sully your flesh with sin." Your
flesh and blood sensed the deterioration and estrangement
that took place in your soul; an impression was imprinted
upon your gross flesh, and the skin which should have
radiated the aura of the Divine image was dimmed,
extinguished, dulled. Your image is darkened, obscured, and
has caused your skin to sprout blemishes and lesions.
This shall be the law of the leper. The entire Torah upon one
foot, so to speak. He shall be brought to the Kohen,
who will examine and determine to what extent the damage has
been made, and to implement upon his soul: "This shall I
impart to my heart, therefore do I shudder..."