PARASHIYOT TAZRIA METZORA - תזריע/מצורע
Torah: Leviticus 12:1-15:33; Haftarah: 2 Kings 7:3-20; Gospel: Luke 2:22-35; Mark 1:35-45
Why does the Talmud refer to the Messiah as “The Leper?” What does the Messiah have in common with a leper?
In one cryptic passage from the Talmud, the sages discuss different theories about the potential name of the Messiah. Several schools of disciples offer different opinions. Each one has a theory about what the name of the Messiah will be. After the Talmud offers the list of opinions, it presents an authoritative ruling of the sages. The Messiah will be called “the Leper of the House of Rabbi,” a strange name indeed for the promised Savior King:
And the rabbis say: “His name is The Leper … as it is said [in Isaiah 53:4], ‘Surely our sicknesses he himself bore and our sorrows he carried, yet we ourselves esteemed him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.’” (b.Sanhedrin 98b)
A word association between the leper and the suffering servant of Isaiah 53 involves the Hebrew verb nega (נגע) which means to “smite.” The Torah refers to the condition of leprosy with the noun form of the same word which means plague, smiting, and affliction. The Talmud quotes Isaiah 53:4 where Isaiah uses the same word to describe the affliction of the suffering servant:
Surely our sicknesses (nagua, נגוע) He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. (Isaiah 53:4)