In the procedure prescribed for the first stage of a metzora's purification (Lev. 14:1-7), the Torah lists four items to be dipped into a mixture of blood and water: a live bird, a piece of cedar wood, a strip of crimson wool and a sprig of hyssop.

Rashi (to 14:6, citing Sifra) points out that while all four items are dipped, only three of them are attached together: the crimson wool is used to tie the wood and the hyssop, while the bird is just held along with them. And Negaim 14:1 adds that the tips of the bird's wings and tail are to be touching the bundle.

This sounds reminiscent of what we do when taking the Four Species on Sukkos; there too, three of them are bound together, with the esrog remaining apart but touching them. Does anyone suggest any reason for this commonality?

  • 1
    Nice observation! Although he doesn't, IIRC, mention this connection, R' Hirsch does note that in general, this procedure seems to contain allusions to many other procedures. For example, the two similar birds, one of which is slaughtered and the other of which is set free, evoke the two goats on Yom Kippur. He lists a bunch of other such apparent allusions to various other practices that I don't recall at the moment.
    – Isaac Moses
    Apr 26, 2012 at 19:53
  • 1
    FWIW, the Mishna in Menachos (3:6) lists the two sets of four together as both requiring a complete set (l'ikuva) to fulfill the mitzvah. Apr 27, 2012 at 1:59
  • The Rikanti connects the uniting of the 4 kinds with the 4 letters of G-d's name. Maybe we can make the same connection with the Metzorah. -- "In Recanati's commentary to Vayikra 23:40, we find: "One must join the etrog to the other species, so as not to separate it from the rest. This secret was revealed to me in a dream on the first night of the festival of Sukkot when I was a guest of a certain Ashkenazi chasid named R. Yitzchak. I saw in my dream that he was writing the Tetragrammaton, separating the final letter 'he' from the first three letters. And I asked him, What are you doing? ...
    – Menachem
    May 6, 2012 at 21:11
  • ...And he answered, This is the local custom. And I objected and wrote it whole. And I was astonished by the vision and did not understand. The next day at the time of taking the lulav, I saw that he waved only the lulav and its [accompanying] species, but without the etrog. And I understood the meaning of my dream, and he retracted."" -- vbm-torah.org/archive/sukka/15sukka.htm#_ftn2 -- perhaps we can connect purifying the Metzorah to the reunification of G-d's Name, restoring the lower Hei (Malchut) that was separated by the Metzorah's actions.
    – Menachem
    May 6, 2012 at 21:11
  • question 6 here makes the connection: yadut.com/Source/… :)
    – Menachem
    May 14, 2012 at 22:39

1 Answer 1


This is pretty tenuous, but there is a version of the Mishnah in Avot (3:5) that uses the verse "‫ואנודתו על ארץ יסדה‬" to prove that even three people who learn together, the Divine Presence rests on them (instead of using the verse to prove it for 5 people).

This is the Bartenura's version. He says that we see that 3 things together are called an "Agudah", like the Agudat Eizov. The Kehati add like Agudat Lulav as well.

Now, "Agudat Eizov" does not refer to the Metzorah purification process (but rather to the Parah Adumah and the blood on the doorpost at exodus from Egypt), but Rashi does call it an Agudah.

So if we say that an Agudah is specifically 3, this could explain why both the Lulav and the Metzorah's purification have 3 items bundled together, with the 4th item on the side.

[Even though the Lulav is three species bound together, while the Metzorah's is two species bound by the third - The Halacha is that we bind the 3 kinds with palm leaves, because if the binding was another material, it could be considered as one was talking an extra kind. So we see that the binding is also considered as one of the kinds when "taking"]

  • "if we say that an Agudah is specifically 3, this could explain why both the Lulav and the Metzorah's purification have 3 items bundled together, with the 4th item on the side": because God wants it to be an aguda davka, I gather? Why?
    – msh210
    May 6, 2012 at 21:21
  • @msh210: Maybe because it should be taken as one and tying it up does that. See for example - "Because he has exalted himself like a cedar tree... he should humble himself like a blade of grass. (Midrash Tanchuma)" -- from here: chabad.org/parshah/in-depth/default_cdo/aid/39687/jewish/…
    – Menachem
    May 6, 2012 at 21:39
  • 1
    @msh210: also see my comments on the question, which may or may not mean anything
    – Menachem
    May 6, 2012 at 21:48

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .