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The Messianic Power to Cure
by Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh

>>> Listen to Audio Lecture here 


The Torah portions of Tazria and Metzora, which discuss the archetypical disease of tzara'at and its cure, are possibly the most messianic portions in all the Torah. In this meditation, Rabbi Ginsburgh explores the source of the disease of tzara'at--Messianic frustration. By understanding the depths of this existential frustration we open the door to its ultimate cure--the redemption and arrival of the Mashiach.

Healing our All-Inclusive Disease

The only disease discussed in the Torah that includes laws pertaining to its manifestation and cure is tzara'at. This renders tzara'at the archetypical, all-inclusive disease. (Tzara'at is usually translated as "leprosy." Although it is not clear if this is the leprosy common today, tzara'at is plainly a skin disease.) If we can cure this disease, we will have the power, knowledge and insight to cure all disease--a sign of the coming of Mashiach.

The Rectifying Negative

As we had learned from
our meditation on the Torah portion of Vayikra, each 3-letter root in the Hebrew language has six possible permutations. In all the Hebrew language there are only seven 3-letter roots whose six permutations all have meaning.

The early master of Kabbalah, Rabbi Abraham Abulafia would meditate on a Hebrew word by taking the root permutations and contemplating on the cycle of images created by each permutation. Notably, no matter what the root, at least one of the six permutations will have a negative implication. However, when the negative implication is meditated upon as part of the entire cycle, the whole purifies and rectifies the negative connotation. Furthermore, the negative implication is necessary for the rectification of the whole. The very fact that negative is required in order to complete the whole rectifies the negativity. This principle of the Hebrew language applies to all phenomena in life. It is beautifully illustrated by the teachings of our sages that in order for our prayers to reach God, the full spectrum of the Jewish People--from the most righteous to the least--must be included in our prayers.

The Six Permutations of Tzara

Let us now explore the cycle of images created by the root of tzara'at--tzara (tzadik, reish, ayin):




tzadik, reish, ayin



tzadik, ayin, reish


hardship, pain

reish, ayin, tzadik


to smash

reish, tzadik, ayin


to inflict stripes (by whipping with a strap)

ayin, tzadik, reish


to halt or rule to prevent anarchic expansion

ayin, reish, tzadik


to respect (a tyrant) because of his power

Healing the Cycle of Tzara'at

In this cycle, all the roots appear to be negative, and need to be healed. In order to effect true healing, these permutations must be experienced internally, within one's consciousness. To internally experience this cycle one must have the ability to rearrange Hebrew letters--spiritual building blocks--to create new permutations. The capacity to create and experience each permutation hinges on achieving a level of nothingness--the inner point of wisdom. When this point of nothingness has been achieved, one can actually live through and experience these images as a cycle.

Rabbi Abulafia taught that these images should preferably appear at high speed. The highest level to be reached is when the images appear simultaneously.

If we can perceive the six apparently negative images of the root tzara simultaneously, we have achieved the ultimate speed, stemming from our strived-for nothingness. This is the power to heal. All disease is somethingness, which is evil. Healing is the power of nothingness.

The Root of the Problem

Our Sages explain that the word tzara'at is an acronym for "he who emits evil" (motzi ra)--a slanderer. Disease originates from the evil words that we speak of others (even if true).

If we examine the root of the all-inclusive disease, tzara, on a deeper level, we see that its first letter is tzadik, a "righteous person." The Torah reinforces the inference that the leper being discussed is a tzadik. When describing the leper in the initial verse, (Leviticus 13:3), he is referred to as adam ("a man"), the highest form of the synonyms for human being. The sages teach that although tzara'at is the origin of all disease, it no longer exists, as nobody today is at the level of righteousness to merit such a terrible disease.

The Tzaddik who has Bad

The second two letters of the root tzara are reish and ayin, which spell ra, "evil." Thus, the entire root, tzadik, reish, ayin,  alludes to a righteous person who simultaneously has bad. The simple explanation of this apparent paradox is that this refers to a completely righteous person who experiences negativity in his life. It is impossible for us to understand why God, Who is all good and all loving, gives the righteous bad experiences in life.

Chassidut explains that a tzadik who has bad refers to a person who is not 100% righteous. He still has an iota of bad. If he were 100% righteous, he would not be vulnerable to bad things happening to him. Because this tzadik has a speck of gravitation toward evil in the depths of his consciousness, he is open to negative events occurring in his life. The purpose of this suffering is to rectify the iota of evil still within him. (If he would have a larger amount of evil in his soul, he would not be a tzadik, but rather an intermediary person. In this case, he would not suffer the same type of tribulations, as they would not be relevant to his particular rectification).

When a tzadik suffers, this does not at all interfere with his faith in God. The suffering even enhances his faith, as he is happy with the knowledge that all that happens to him comes from God and is for his ultimate good. This is the origin of his ultimate healing.

The Leper at the Gateway of Rome

According to the Talmud, prior to his revelation, the Mashiach is a leper who sits at the gateway of Rome (Western civilization). When this leper is healed, he will transform to the revealed Mashiach. In the meantime, he is the ultimate tzadik. Nonetheless, he still contains deep within his consciousness an iota of gravitation toward evil. (It is this speck of evil, which allows the tzadik to truly connect to all people. The great tzadik loves all people, and does not necessarily have the complete ability to distinguish between the person's good and bad side. At very high levels of consciousness, a person is capable of discerning the holiness from the evil and loving only the holiness in another. But most everyone, even a great tzadik, is not always able to reach that level. Ultimately, it is more important to love another, even if this includes his evil, than to be unloving.) Paradoxically, this iota of evil is an essential requirement. The tzadik needs this infinitesimal gravitation toward evil so that he can identify with the world--a prerequisite to redeeming the world.

The Messianic Rectification

Nevertheless, the sages say that tzara'at is associated with evil speech. How can evil speech be associated with a tzadik?

Every person has a spark of Mashiach within him, his own Messianic potential that he must manifest. A person's Messianic potential is in proportion to his spiritual level. The immense Messianic potential of the great tzadik remains unfulfilled, as the world does not allow him to manifest his potential. This can lead him to profound existential frustration. Sometimes, due to his frustration, the tzadik may inadvertently express some negative words--blaming external reality for his inability to fulfill his Messianic potential. As soon as he even unwittingly blames someone else, he has, at his level, spoken evil speech, and is vulnerable to suffering and tzara'at. This vulnerability stems from the crucial speck of evil within his consciousness.

The thoughts of the tzadik and his understanding of his own existential frustration at Mashiach not being here are the rectification for his state of suffering. The quintessential cure for this frustration and disease is the manifestation of the Mashiach, who will bring redemption to the entire world.


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