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    A different name – M’tzora

    metzoraParashat M’tzora (“The Leper”) is not the only or the original name of this week’s reading. Saadia Gaon, Rashi, the Rambam – all had a tradition that this sidra should be called Zot Tihyeh (“This Shall Be”).

    The change in name might have something to do with the general principle that the weekly reading is named after its first important word. Hence Parashat Sh’mot is not called V’Eileh (“And These Are””) because that is a less important Hebrew word than Sh’mot (“Names”).

    In our case, as the Lubavitcher Rebbe tells us, there must have been a feeling that a name like M’tzora would have been too unpleasant in its connotations.

    Why then use the name “This Shall Be”? Perhaps because we want to convey a sense of hope and faith. The leper is marked by a terrible affliction – as things are at the moment. But there will come a time (“This Shall Be”) when humanity will be free of affliction, ailments and suffering.

    It’s hard to imagine it, but human civilisation will get there. The Torah commands us to support the physician in going further, taking medicine to new frontiers and, God willing, the time when illness will be over will be part of the messianic fulfilment.

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