Parshat Metzora decribes the purification process for the Metzora. Part of this process involved the Kohen dabbing blood on the purifying person’s ear, right thumb and right big toe. This procedure was repeated a second time with oil.
This is not the first instance that this unusual ritual is described and utilized. In the course of the Kohanim’s dedication into service, they underwent the same procedure on the same appendages.
It's worth noting that Kohen and Metzorah stand in stark contrast one to the other: The Kohen’s role is to bring about peace and unite for the community; whereas the Metzora is associated with behaviors that divide people and bring acrimony (such as Lashon Harah).
But what is the significance of the ear, the thumb and the big toe?
I did not come across a commentator who dealt with this issue directly, so let me share with you one idea I had:
Ear: is what we use to listen with
Big toe: is very important in maintaining balance
Thumb: is crucial in grasping items and keeping a grip
Perhaps the Metzora's purification ritual comes to teach us that to be a worthy, upstanding member of society you must work on the following tasks:
Listen to people, don’t just talk
Seek to maintain balance, and avoid extremes
Keep a grip on things: not just tangible items but ideas and perspectives as well. We must attempt to keep things in perspective and proportion, for otherwise we may find ourselves constantly troubled by people and circumstances around us.
If we can listen more than we speak, find balance while avoiding extremes, and keep a grip on reality and what is really important than we will be worthy of helping to create a better community and a better world.
In light of these lessons, it is very appropriate that Parshat Metzorah is often Shabbat, Hagadol, the Parsha we read right before Pesach. Preparations for Pesach, and the Seder experience are both enhanced if we heed these lessons gleaned frorm the Metzora's purification.
Listening, Maintaining Balance, and Keeping a Grip are sound pieces of advice for each of us as we prepare for a Happy and Kosher Pesach