I would like to look at the haftorah for this week’s parasha. It’s a story about four מצורעים, but it doesn’t seem to have anything to to with צרעת per se:
The haftorah starts in the middle of the story, so we have no idea what is going on. Here’s the back story, courtesy of Chabad:
It’s a nice story about faith in הקב״ה, but what does it have to do with our parasha? We need to understand the magnitude of the miracle described here. It is very similar to another miracle (so much so that everyone gets them confused; ask anyone who knows the haftorot who the enemy here is. Guaranteed they will say Assyria):
This is a big miracle, saving the Jews while they sleep. Most of the time ה׳ asks that we do our השתדלות before He helps us. חזקיה was a צדיק, the greatest king of Judah since David himself, and still fell short in this instance:
Now this level of miracle—ה׳ saved them while they slept, with no human intervention—seems appropriate for חזקיה who was a righteous king, who could have been מלך המשיך. But this kind of miracle for יורם? He was the son of אחאב, and a successor to all his idol worship:
The נביא damns him with faint praise:
And he seals the fate of בית אחאב:
And this was not an isolated incident. Miracles were routinely done for Israel under יורם:
How could ה׳ do this sort of thing for בית אחאב? There is a subtle dynamic in םפר מלכים between the kingdoms of יהודה and ישראל that חז״ל were sensitive to:
יהודה and ישראל were complementary parts of what should have been a single nation. יהודה kept the בית המקדש but their בין אדם לחברו was lacking. ישראל worshiped עבודה זרה but were united and trusted each other. There’s a nice example of their בין אדם לחברו in the outcome of the story mentioned above:
So that is why ישראל merited to the miraculous victory described in our haftorah. And that gives us the connection to our parasha. צרעת is an outward sign of of a sin of בין אדם לחברו; generally לשון הרע, what the ירושלמי called דילטורין above.
The haftorah is less about the miracle than about the redemption of the four מצורעים. We do not know their original sin (חז״ל say they were גיחזי and his sons, who were greedy and lied to אלישע, from מלכים ב פרק ה. ואכמ״ל). But they realize לא כן אנחנו עשים היום הזה and return to society to save it. And that is what our parasha is about: the process of purifying the מצורע. That has to start from within the person himself; the ritual is only after the internal purification has happened. The משך חכמה sees a grammatical hint to this:
So, too, we need to realize how powerful the מצוות בין אדם לחברו are; they have the potential to override a lot of other faults. And improving that is entirely up to us, we can’t rely on a כהן or anyone else to do it for us.