“He who is to be purified must wash his clothes, shave off all his hair and bathe himself in water. Then he will be clean; and after that, he may enter the camp; but he must live outside his tent for seven days. On the seventh day he is to shave all the hair off his head, also his beard and eyebrows — he must shave off all his hair; and he is to wash his clothes and bathe his body in water; and he will be clean.”-Leviticus 14:8-9
Let’s quickly review the four steps that comprise the METSORA purification ritual as follows:
STEP 1: One out of two clean birds is killed and its blood drained into a clay bowl filled with water.
STEP 2: The remaining alive bird TOGETHER WITH the cedar wood, the hyssop, and red dye is dipped into the bowl now containing a mixture of blood and water.
STEP 3: The officiating priest sprinkles the blood and water onto the METSORA seven times.
STEP 4: The live bird is released to fly away and never come back.
What is the meaning behind the bird being released to fly away and never come back?
Well, although we haven’t studied it yet, this particular aspect of the ritual is identical to the Scapegoat ritual where two goats are taken and one is killed and one released.
The idea is that the live animal that is released bears the sins of the person and is now being cast off far away.
In the case of the scapegoat offering, the goat that is sent away bears the sins of the entire nation of Israel.
This is important to point out because the METSORA purification ritual uses the two identical elements of those sacrifices that ONLY the High Priest can officiate over: The SCAPEGOAT RITUAL and the RED HEIFER SACRIFICE.
Let’s also not forget that the ritual to purify the METSORA is practically the same as the ritual of consecrating a Levite into the priesthood.
After the bird has been released, the METSORA washes his clothes, shaves his head and then immerses in a ritual bath.
Once the Israelites settled in the Promised Land, the place where ritual bathing took place came to be called a MIKVAH.
This was kind of like a small stone swimming pool.
Next, take a look at all these verses from Leviticus chapter 14.
“He who is to be purified must wash his clothes, shave off all his hair and bathe himself in water. Then he will be clean; and after that, he may enter the camp; but he must live outside his tent for seven days.”-Leviticus 14:8
“On the seventh day he is to shave all the hair off his head, also his beard and eyebrows — he must shave off all his hair; and he is to wash his clothes and bathe his body in water; and he will be clean.”-Leviticus 14:9
“The cohen is to offer the burnt offering and the grain offering on the altar; thus the cohen will make atonement for him; and he will be clean.”-Leviticus 14:20
What the heck is going on here?!
How many times is the METSORA being made clean?
The METSORA is declared CLEAN once the live bird is released.
He is declared CLEAN a second time after shaving and bathing.
And then in verse 9, after shaving off all of his hair including all facial hair (beard and eyebrows) and washing again, the METSORA is declared CLEAN yet a third time!
What’s going on here?
Okay, so what’s really happening here is that the METSORA is attaining ever greater and greater levels of purity.
He or she is moving upward from one stage of purity to the next.
This goes to show that the concept of CLEAN and UNCLEAN as presented in the Torah is not a neat and simple matter.
Ultimately, the METSORA will reach that final stage of ritual purity that will enable him to participate in the sacrificial rituals at the Temple.
What we are witnessing is a step-by-step gradual re-assimilation of what was formerly a social outcast back into society.
Accordingly, the METSORA, who was formerly shunned by God is also step-by-step brought back into a relationship with the Holy One.
Here we see both EARTHLY and SPIRITUAL restoration occurring simultaneously.
This is another perfect illustration of the AS-IN-HEAVEN-SO-ON-EARTH principle.