The process of purifying an individual from tzara'at, leprosy, occurs in the portion Metzora. It’s not just specifically speaking, however, about leprosy, but also about the purification of any individual who has found themselves in darkness because of their own negative actions.
"The purpose of spiritual work is to recover sparks of Light."
It says the person who has leprosy is sent outside of the city where he or she lives. After seven days, the kohen, the priest, also goes outside of the city and ascertains whether that person has gone through enough purification; if so, then he or she is allowed back. This whole process of the kohen going and finding out whether that person can come back or not holds within it, the kabbalists teach, a tremendous amount of secrets - one upon which all the spiritual work is based.
The purpose of spiritual work, they explain, is to recover sparks of Light that have been given over to the Negative Side, called klipot. Those sparks originally got there through what’s called the sin, or fall, of Adam, and unfortunately, throughout history, humanity has also collectively sent those sparks to the Negative Side. And the Gemar HaTikun, the End of the Correction, will occur when what are called the 288 sparks are elevated from the Negative Side.
There are ways of elevating these sparks through our spiritual connections and work, but there is also a very important part we don’t pay attention to that is crucial to the process. Every Friday night at Shabbat, we sing a verse that translates to, “the soul wakes up at the night, and that’s when she brings sustenance to our home.” The kabbalists explain that “the night” refers to the moments we find ourselves in a place of darkness, and that we have to know it is not a mistake we are there. Why? Because it is in the darkness, in the realm of the klipot, where the sparks that we need to elevate reside.
"When we elevate, we elevate those sparks with us."
Therefore, when we find ourselves in a place of darkness, the sparks are jumping onto our soul. And when we become reconnected to our consciousness, we are able to elevate all those sparks that had attached themselves to us. However, if we are not appreciative of what just happened in the darkness and simply want to move on and forget about it, we won’t have the opportunity to elevate those sparks. It is, therefore, incredibly important to have this appreciation so that we can enable the process of the elevation of sparks every time we come out of a moment of darkness. Because when enough of these sparks are elevated, it will not only bring all the Light we need into our own lives, but also an end to pain and suffering and death in this world.
It’s really an amazing teaching: the reason we fall, the reason we are in darkness, is because we need to be in close proximity to those sparks that are still under the control of the Negative Side, so that then when we elevate, we elevate those sparks with us. Therefore, we have to appreciate the times of darkness, knowing it is during those times that sparks attach themselves to us, so that we can then elevate them. This is why, in spiritual work, there always seem to be cycles of inspiration and lack of inspiration, Light and darkness; it is during those times when we’re in the low place that the sparks attach themselves to us, and then, when we’re reawakened and connected again, we elevate them. One of the gifts, therefore, that we can receive on Shabbat Metzora is the understanding that anytime in our life when we’re feeling low and disconnected, it is an important time. Because when we become reconnected, we are able to then elevate the sparks that had attached themselves to us.