These two portions (parashot) of Sefer Vayyiqra (Leviticus) are generally read together and are separated only on leap years (7 times each 19 years cycle).
Now the whole book of Leviticus/Vayyiqra in general, and these two portions in particular are baffling, and admittedly boring, useless, or even off-putting, for the average reader, be they Jewish or Gentile. We have no longer Levites administering medicine, and even if the Temple was resumed, people would not likely change their hospital visits to consultation with the Levites. Worst of all, we actually do not know what Metzora is! The word is translated, and is used in contemporary Hebrew, as Leprosy. But the Biblical Metzora is clearly something different from leprosy. The great law giver, the 11th century Maimonides, who was one of the great medical doctors of his time, said we do not know what this tzara’at was. And certainly we do not speak of “Leprous building”.
But if we take the perspective of the “Future Torah”, with its chronology that the Torah was actually given for our time, the “Sixth Millennium” of the Hebrew Calendar, that of the formation of Adam as cyberspace-unified humankind, these stipulations about Metzora’im and Levites take a whole new message.
The condition of the Metzora is determined by the condition of his/her skin – the “garment” of the body. Likewise, the Tzara’at of a house is determined by the condition of its facing stones. In the book of Genesis it is written about the expulsion from the Garden of Eden, that “For the man (Adam) and his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them” (Gen. 3:21). The Hebrew for those “Coats of skin” is “Kutanot Or” with the letter Ayin (ע). The Midrash states that, “In the Torah book of Rabbi Me’ir was found that he wrote “Kutanot Or”, with the letter Aleph (א)” (Bereshit Raba 20/12). Note that “Rabbi Me’ir” means literally “the shining/illuminating teacher” and that “Kutanot Or” literally means “garments of light”. From this developed the tradition that Adam was first a spiritual creature with a “light body”, without a material body, and that he later got clothed by the material body. (There are many saved Gnostic writings that deal with light bodies, and much Qabbalah literature about light garments which a person acquires through his good deeds, and about the Tselem – the Divine-human pattern/image of Gen. 1:26-27).
Nowadays, the development of cyberspace endows this Genesis passage with a new meaning. We do meet in cyberspace, yet surely not in our bodies, but as virtual identities – as Names (Shemot). The more recent developments may allow us to appear in cyberspace by some visual figure – portraits (and whatever other visual tokens) on Facebook - and even whole bodies, so called “Avatars”, in computer games.
A major advantage – and peril – of such representations in cyberspace is that the user can choose to appear in any form she/he fancies – or expects the relevant other to fancy. Phony identities proliferate on the internet, some may cause fun and pleasure, and others may serve villainy.
Let us return for a moment to the job of the Levites, supposed to check for Tzara’at. They were to decide whether the person would be entitled to be in the camp of the Community of Israel – or has to stay outside the camp. They were to know the physical signs of a spiritual blemish. The sages who tried to figure out what was this mysterious disease said it was the punishment for Leshon haRa “The evil tongue”, namely gossip and defamation of other people.
So returning to the formation of communities on the Internet, there would surely be some communities whose members feel they congregate for true and holy purposes. Such communities would well require facilities for checking that certain contents and identities are not phony or malicious (a current, relatively primitive facility is the polygraph “Lie Detector”). If there be such algorithms that, based on an ongoing analysis of a person’s – or a person’s avatar - surfing history, will identify his blemishes and characteristics. This data could then be translated to light garments that may, or may not, cover the body - or the spiritual space that represents that participant.
The Torah discusses these laws in the context of forming the perfect human community of Israel - that of God’s firstborn child (Ex. 4:22), the model for blessings for “all the families of the Earth” (Gen. 12:3). The potential members of the presently emerging Twelve-Tribes of Israel would surely gather in cyberspace by a process of detailed and intimate spiritual interactions. These processes may entail fun, but not phoniness. So the people of this New Israel, meeting in cyberspace, may don the light garments that honestly represent their spiritual achievements, wants and blemishes – to help them find the proper mates to help facilitate their improvement – Tiqqun.
By the same token, there would be an aggregated figure projected onto the skies of Jerusalem that represents “The State of Adam”. This holographic figure, projected over an artificial standing cloud, will serve as a clear visual feedback about the State of humankind.
Tansley David: The subtle Body, Thames & Hudson, 1977, 1984
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