The metzora must leave his life behind and spend time out in the field, far away from the rest of the Nation.
He could spend weeks or even months there...who knows?
Rav Miller says that back then, tzara'at was often a fatal disease.
So the metzora stays outside the limits of society, living in whatever structure he can find out there, completely isolated and not sure if he'll die that way.
It's a miserable, miserable life.
But when he sees his white patch healing, he goes to the Kohen and the Kohen declares him fit for society once again.
And this is a great joy & relief.
Choosing the Right Kind of Red
Part of what we learn from the metzora is how grateful we should be upon recovering from any illness, no matter how minor or temporary. (Rav Miller fleshes this out in blazing detail on pages 5-6.)
We should be so grateful and joyful for the body parts that work well.
But the other thing we learn from the metzora is the great importance of living in joy & shalom.
A metzora was so infectious that he needed to keep a garment wrapped around his mouth and then call out to anyone approaching him: "Tamei, tamei! Impure, impure!"
Of course, this reminds me of today's obligatory masks (also meant to protect others from you, not you from them) and a doctor's discomfort when he needed to warn other to keep away from him after he caught coronavirus:
The metzora is suddenly grateful for all the rountine things in life, like walking down the street, going to shul, and davening with a minyan.
He could get clothes or footwear when his old ones wore out.
And on pages 10-20, Rav Miller eloquently describes the joy-inducing wonders going on around us in the most mundane things.
If you're in quarantine, it might help to read through pages and then look out your window or look in your fridge. Or even look a picture of nature, then contemplate Rav Miller's description of it. Or make up your own.
Then he speaks about the color red, which plays a big part in several parts of Tanach.
Red dye can be made from beautiful plants like rose or beetroot or the rubia plant.
Part of the metzora's purification process is to dip a piece of red-dyed wool in the blood of the slaughter bird.
And here's the symbolism of that (page 15):
And the answer is like this: It symbolizes two kinds of redness – one is natural dye and the other is blood; and Hakodosh Boruch Hu is saying that you have a choice to make:
Are you going to notice Me by means of the colorful world I’m giving you, or chas v’shalom, by means of another more painful red?
Think about it:
- Are you going to notice Hashem because of the colorful world He gave you, for all the good within?
- Or you going to notice Hashem because of another, more painful red?
It encapsulates the whole choice in a nutshell.