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Shabbos Parshas Tzav,

Yud-Alef Nissan, 5751

The 13th of Nissan, 5751

After Selling the Chometz

Erev Pesach

Tzivos Hashem

To the Chassidim who Returned from the Tahaluchah on the night of Acharon Shel Pesach, 5751

Acharon Shel Pesach, 5751

Yechidus

Shabbos Parshas Shemini

The Eve of the Second of Iyar, 5751

Shabbos Parshas Tazria-Metzora

   6th Day of Iyar, 5751

Shabbos Parshas Acharei-Kedoshim

15th of Iyar, 5751

Lag BaOmer, 5751

Shabbos Parshas Emor

Shabbos Parshas Behar-Bechukosai

Nshei uBnos Chabad Convention

Shabbos Parshas Bamidbar and Motzoei Shavuos, 5751

After the Return of the Participants in the Tahaluchah

Yechidus

Shabbos Parshas Naso

15th of Sivan, 5751

Shabbos Parshas Behaalos'cha

Shabbos Parshas Shelach

The 28th of Sivan, 5751

Sichos In English
Volume 48

Shabbos Parshas Tazria-Metzora
6th Day of Iyar, 5751
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  The Eve of the Second of Iyar, 575113th Day of Iyar, 5751  

1

This is a time when every person is obligated to do all that depends on him to bring about the coming of Mashiach immediately for "All the appointed times for Mashiach's coming have passed." This is cogently true at present after the conclusion of the month of Nissan. Surely, in the immediate future, Mashiach will actually come and everyone will point to him and say, "Here look, Mashiach has actually come."

These concepts, the imminence of Mashiach's coming and every Jew's responsibility to act to bring that coming closer are connected to this week's Torah reading, Tazria-Metzora.

To explain: Parshas Tazria begins with the mention of a woman giving birth to a son. This is an allusion to the coming of the future redemption which is often described using the metaphor of birth. In particular, the birth of a son can be interpreted as a reference to the strength and permanence that will characterize the ultimate redemption, for this redemption will not be followed by an exile.[140] In this context, the woman is an allusion to the Jewish people whose service will ultimately bear fruit in the advent of the Era of Redemption.

Parshas Metzora also shares a connection to Mashiach's coming. Our Sages teach: What is Mashiach's name? "The leper of the School of Rebbi" as implied by the prophecy, "He has borne our sicknesses and endured our afflictions." Mashiach will sit among the lepers and be a leper himself.[141]

(Based on the above, we can appreciate the derivation of the name of the parshah from the verse, "This is the law applying to the leper on his day of purification." Although the commonly accepted name of the parshah is Metzora, "the leper," in some communities, it is referred to as Parshas Taharah, "the portion of purification." Based on the above, we can appreciate both names as applying to the Mashiach; Metzora, refers to him as he exists within exile, and Taharah, refers to his state after he reveals himself and redeems the Jewish people.)

To explain the above concept: Commenting on the verse, "When a man will have a blemish on his skin," the Alter Rebbe explains that Adom (the Hebrew term used for "man") refers to a person who is completely developed in all aspects of his personality. Therefore, the blemish is only on his skin,[142] i.e., it affects only the lower and more superficial elements of his being which have not been refined as of yet.

The Alter Rebbe continues, explaining that leprous blemishes are "Sublime matters. They are not impure until they are determined to be so by a priest.... Until then, they are not impure, but rather sublime lights."[143]

These two explanations of leprous blemishes -- that reflect the superficial aspects of one's being that have not yet been refined and that they are a reflection of sublime G-dly lights -- are interrelated. Because they are a reflection of such sublime lights, even when there is a descent and nurture is derived by undesirable forces, the effects are only superficial.

In this context, we can appreciate the purification of a leper's blemishes in a different context: The purification process does not represent the introduction of a new quality, but rather the revelation of the inner, true dimension possessed by these blemishes, their existence as sublime lights. This is reflected by the phrase, "on the day of one's purification." This implies that the purification from leprosy is connected with "day," i.e., with revelation, revealing the inner nature of these sublime lights.

To focus on this concept: It is precisely the sublime nature of these Divine lights that allows for the derivation of nurture by undesirable forces. These lights are too powerful to be enclothed within vessels and therefore, there is the possibility for descent.[144]

When these powerful lights shine to vessels which cannot enclothe them, they cause the vessels to feel a yearning to rise above their immediate situation and to become included within the light of G-d. This state is described as ratzu. This allows for the possibility for nurture to be derived by the external forces because there is no downward influence of holiness directed toward worldly involvement. To give an example of this on the personal level: After a person feels tremendously inspired in prayer, the energy he feels may be expressed in anger directed at another person.

What is necessary? To develop equilibrium with such feelings of ratzu, it is necessary to put a stress on shuv, involvement in the world. This is characterized by bittul. The yearning for G-dliness has an element of yesh, self-concern, for in any love relationship, the person expressing love feels his personal identity. Conversely, in the approach of shuv, one must be like a subject who is totally overwhelmed when in the presence of his master and who feels no self-importance whatsoever.

This bittul will find expression in various efforts to draw Divine light downward, thus fulfilling G-d's desire for a dwelling within the lower worlds. Thus, this thrust of shuv has the potential to draw down the "sublime lights" that are too transcendent to be enclothed in vessels to be revealed within this world.

The fusion of these two tendencies of ratzu and shuv comes about through the revelation of a light that transcends both qualities. This is reflected in the quality of Tiferes (beauty) which has the power to create a synthesis between Chesed (kindness) and Gevurah (might), because within it, is revealed a light which utterly transcendent in nature.

This process is reflected in the description of the purification of a leper as toras hametzora, "the law of the leper." Seemingly, the verse should have stated taharas hametzora, "the purification process for the leper." Why does it use the word toras? To indicate that, in a spiritual sense, the purification of a leper comes about through the Torah.

Torah study requires bittul, as implied by fusion of the phrases in our prayers, "My soul will be as dust to all. Open my heart in Your Torah." It is Bittul that makes one an appropriate recipient for the Torah.

The Torah is associated with the attribute of Tiferes as our Sages declared, "Tiferes is the giving of the Torah." Thus, the Torah has the potential to unite the two thrusts of ratzu and shuv and hence, cause the sublime lights to be drawn down and revealed within the vessels of this world.[145] This revelation, in turn, prevents the external forces from deriving nurture.

Based on the above, we can consider leprosy an analogy for exile and the purification from this impurity as an analogy for the redemption. Exile is characterized by the concealment of G-dly light. This darkness, however, has its source in sublime lights which are too transcendent to be revealed within this material world. Since the source of this darkness is so high, it affects only the lower and more superficial elements of our existence.

This conception also leads to another idea: Our efforts to refine the world in the time of exile do not involve the introduction of a totally new idea, but rather the revelation of the true nature of the exile itself. Therefore, the exile need not be nullified entirely, but rather transformed into redemption.

This concept is revealed in the relationship between the Hebrew words for exile and redemption, golah () and geulah (). The difference between these two words is one letter, the Alef, which stands for G-d, Alufo Shel Olam ("L-rd of the world"). Through our service in the present era, we can reveal the sublime G-dly lights that are not revealed in the time of exile.

In particular, this is brought about through service that is characterized by bittul and mesirus nefesh. These qualities bring the yechidah of the Jewish soul into expression and thus, lead to the expression of the Divine level of Yochid ("One") which brings about the fusion of ratzu and shuv and thus causes the sublime Divine lights to be revealed within the vessels of this world.

Based on the above explanation, we can understand the sequence in the two portions that are read this week. As a preface to the concept of leprosy described in both parshiyos, the Torah speaks of a woman giving birth which is an analogy of how our service at present can lead to the redemption. In continuation, the Torah reading mentions leprosy the exile, for in truth the exile relates to sublime G-dly heights which ultimately will be revealed in this world in the Era of the Redemption.

Afterwards, Parshas Metzora whose very name alludes to exile begins with the description of the leper's purification process, the revelation of the true nature of the exile.[146] This is further emphasized by the fact that Mashiach is called a leper and is described by our Sages as living among lepers.

This teaches us that Mashiach also exists in the world in the midst of the exile.[147] He is also in exile and he waits anxiously to become revealed and to proceed to redeem the Jewish people.


2

This week, we study the second chapter of Pirkei Avos. The first teaching of that chapter states:

Rebbi said: Which is the right path that a man (adom) should choose for himself? That which is honorable (tiferes) to himself and brings him honor (tiferes) from man.

There are several difficulties which are raised by this teaching: a) The very question "Which is the right path?" is problematic. Can there be a right path other than the path of the Torah and its mitzvos. b) Why does the Mishnah use the term adom which, as mentioned above, refers to a person whose service of G-d is complete? c) What is the connection between this statement and its author, Rebbi? And why does the Mishnah refer to him in this manner and not by name, Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi?

These questions can be answered within the context of the concepts explained above regarding Mashiach's coming: In Rebbi's generation, his colleagues said: "If Mashiach is among those alive today, he is surely our holy teacher [i.e., Rebbi] for he suffers physical afflictions and is the epitome of piety." Therefore, Rebbi speaks about an adom, a person who like himself has reached a perfect level of fulfillment and therefore has to elevate only the superficial elements of his being and yet suffers the pains of exile.

It must be emphasized that, at present, since we -- as the final generation of the exile -- have already completed all elements of service demanded of us by G-d, every Jew in this generation is on the level of adom.

And the question is: Since we have completed everything demanded of us, "What is the right -- i.e., the most direct and most effective -- path" to bring about the actual coming of Mashiach?

The answer brings out the advantage of the quality of Tiferes, which, as explained above, has the ability to fuse together the two thrusts of ratzu and shuv. Conduct in this manner has the potential to hasten the coming of Mashiach for Mashiach will serve two functions, king (as he is called Melech HaMashiach) and teacher (for he will teach the Torah to the entire people), which represents a similar fusion of two opposite tendencies.

To explain: Our relationship to a king depends on the quality of Kabbalas Ol, i.e., a person goes beyond himself and nullifies himself to the king's authority. In contrast, teaching implies the establishment of an internal bond.[148] Thus, the fusion of these two qualities parallels drawing down transcendent G-dly light into revelation within our limited world.


3

The above concepts can be associated with the present month, the month of Iyar. In contrast to the month of Nissan which is associated with redemption and revelation from above, Iyar represents man's contribution, the advantage achieved through service on this plane. Thus, the relationship between these two months also relates to the concept of drawing down transcendent G-dly light into revelation within our limited world.

The fusion between these two months is established through the second of Iyar, Tiferes sheb'Tiferes, the birthday of the Rebbe Maharash.[149] This allows for the revelations associated with Nissan, the month of redemption to be drawn into the world through our service.

Iyar () is an acronym for the names, Avraham, Yitzchok, Yaakov, and Rachel. The three Patriarchs represent the three vectors of the Sefiros and Rachel represents the vessels which receive this Divine light. Thus, this constitutes a further parallel to the concept described above.

Rachel is also remembered for her mourning over the Jewish people having been sent to exile. G-d promises her that "there will be a reward for your efforts," and that ultimately, "the children will return to their borders," i.e., the redemption will come.

4

There is also a connection between the above concepts and the Sefirah which was counted last night, Malchus sheb'Tiferes (kingship within beauty). In general, the Counting of the Omer is intended to refine our souls ("May it rectify our nefesh, ruach, and neshamah") and the world at large ("May abundant influence be bestowed upon all the worlds"). Ultimately, it will also bring about the redemption as reflected in the prayer "May the Merciful One restore the Beis HaMikdash."

This year, there is a unique dimension to the Counting of the Omer, because Pesach was celebrated on Shabbos. Therefore, each week, the Counting of the Omer begins Saturday night and concludes on Shabbos. Thus, each week Shabbos is associated with the Sefirah of Malchus as manifest within each of the Sefiros (e.g., Malchus sheb'Chesed, Malchus sheb'Gevurah, etc.). There is an interrelationship between the two concepts. Shabbos reflects in microcosm, "the era which will be all Shabbos and rest for eternity," the Era of the Redemption. Similarly, in this era, we will see the ultimate expression of Malchus; Mashiach will restore the Jewish monarchy. Through his activities, G-d's Kingship will be established throughout the world, "And G-d will be king over the entire earth."

Our Sages state: "The king's word can uproot a mountain." Even the strongest elements of existence, mountains, cannot oppose a king. To explain this concept on a deeper level: It is impossible for any person or entity in a country to oppose a king. The life-energy of the entire nation derives from the king and no entity can stand in opposition to its own source. Similarly, in regard to the ultimate kingship, the sovereignty of Mashiach. Mashiach is the essence of all existence as our Sages state, "The world was created solely... for Mashiach." Therefore, there can be no real opposition to the revelation of Mashiach and the redemption. On the contrary, the redemption will reveal the genuine existence of every entity within the world.

{At this farbrengen, the Rebbe Shlita called for active efforts to bring about the coming of Mashiach by: a) increasing our study of Torah, and in particular, studying about the redemption and Mashiach, and b) enhancing our performance of mitzvos behiddur, in a beautiful and conscientious manner, and in particular, increasing our gifts to tzedakah.

This call was published by Sichos In English in an essay entitled "Bringing Mashiach Now."}

Bringing Mashiach Now

In recent weeks, the Rebbe Shlita has been reminding us that the task of bringing Mashiach must be shared. Instead of simply passing on the responsibility to his Rebbe, anyone who is in earnest about the urgency of this task should regard himself as an active partner in it.

This message brings to mind a striking chassidic story in the course of which the Baal Shem Tov tells a parable.

"A man with unusually keen vision once caught sight of an exquisite bird at the tip of a tall tree. Though he very much wanted to reach up there and catch it, he had no ladder. What did he do? He stood a couple of his friends on top of each others' shoulders, with himself uppermost, reached out, and caught the bird. The men underneath him, though they had helped him catch it, knew nothing of its surpassing beauty -- but without them he could not have reached it.

"Now," explained the Baal Shem Tov to some of his chassidim who had taken the liberty of leaving the beis midrash while he was still deep in his inspired meditations, "it so happens that when I say Shemoneh Esreh all manner of hidden things are revealed to me. At this time, my consuming desire is to ascend to the level which the Zohar calls 'the palace of the bird's nest' -- the palace in the World Above which is the abode of the Mashiach. But I cannot aspire to such a lofty height unless I first stand you, my disciples, on each others' shoulders. The entire feat is thus accomplished thanks to yourselves, when you are with me in my beis midrash, even though you may not be aware of it...."


As was said above, the Rebbe Shlita has been reminding us in recent weeks that the task of bring Mashiach must be shared. Accordingly, instead of simply passing on the responsibility to his Rebbe, anyone who is in earnest about the urgency of this task should regard himself as an active partner in it.

I Believe

I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Mashiach. Even if he delays, I will wait[150] every day[151] for him to come.[152]

Our desire for Mashiach's coming should not be casual. On the contrary, the possibility that Mashiach will not arrive on this very day, heaven forbid, should be totally unthinkable. Were we to cry out Ad masai! ("Until when will we remain in exile!"), with sincere intent and earnest desire, Mashiach would surely come.

Yearning for Mashiach Needs Fit Expression: An Increase in Torah and in Mitzvos

The sincerity of this intent, however, must be reflected in the performance of activities to hasten Mashiach's coming for, as our Sages teach,[153] "Action is what matters." Every man, woman, and child has an individual responsibility to work to bring about Mashiach's coming. No one else can shoulder this burden for him: his own efforts and energy are needed. Each of us must prepare for the coming of Mashiach by increasing his study of the Torah and enhancing his performance of itscommandments behiddur, in a beautiful and conscientious manner.

Why is it that these are the activities which will hasten Mashiach's coming? -- Because they are intrinsically parallel to the manner in which Mashiach will relate to the Jewish people.

To explain: The manner in which G-d rewards the Jewish people follows the principle of "measure for measure."[154] Thus our efforts to prepare for and draw down a particular revelation must reflect the nature of that revelation itself. Mashiach will serve as both a king[155] and as a teacher,[156] simultaneously.[157] Therefore, to hasten his coming, our activities should anticipate each of these two functions.

A King Relates by Giving Commands

In contrast to a relationship between a teacher and student, between two friends, or other types of associations, a king relates to his subjects by issuing commands. By nature, a king is utterly superior to his subjects. Thus chassidic thought explains[158] that King Saul's great height -- "He stood among the people, and he was taller than the entire nation from his shoulders up"[159] -- reflected spiritual qualities that also far surpassed those of the people at large. Ideally, the same concept applies in regard to other monarchs.

Because of this gap, a king cannot communicate his thoughts and his feelings to his people. How does he relate to them? -- By issuing commands and thus specifying activities for them to perform on his behalf. To prepare ourselves for the development of such a relationship with Mashiach, the ultimate king, we must enhance our observance of the mitzvos, the commandments we have been given by G-d. Of particular importance is the mitzvah of tzedakah, because "tzedakah brings the redemption near."[160]

Teaching Establishes an Inner Bond

Although obeying a king's commands establishes a relationship between himself and his subjects, this bond is incomplete, for the inner dimensions of his personality remain beyond the reach of his subjects' appreciation. To communicate these inner dimensions of his being, Mashiach will simultaneously serve as a teacher and, in this manner, establish such an inner bond.

Our Sages state that "Whoever teaches another person Torah is considered as if he had brought him into the world."[161] When a father brings a child into the world, he invests within him the very essence of his being. Similarly, a teacher has the capacity to share his essence with his students. When he invests himself in the subject matter he is conveying, and a student concentrates on its grasp, the nature of the student's being is transformed. As he studies, the inner bond established with his teacher shapes his thinking processes, causing them to resemble those of the teacher.

Similarly, by teaching the entire Jewish people, Mashiach will establish such an inner bond with them all. This will uncover the essential spark of Mashiach that every Jew possesses within his soul.[162]

What We Should Study

To relate to this aspect of Mashiach and hasten its revelation, we must increase our study of the Torah, in particular devoting our energies to the study of pnimiyus haTorah, the mystical dimensions of the Torah as they are revealed in the teachings of Chassidus. It is related that the Baal Shem Tov once had a vision of Mashiach and asked him, "When are you coming?" Mashiach replied, "When the wellsprings of your teachings spread outward."[163] Spreading these teachings, both within our own personalities and to others, thus brings the coming of Mashiach closer.

More specifically, our study should center on the subject of Mashiach himself and on the future redemption, and in particular, as these topics are developed in the maamarim and the Likkutei Sichos of the Nasi of our generation. These and other works are provided with subject indexes, which make the relevant sources easily accessible.

This study should be communal in nature, preferably in groups of ten, for "over every group of ten, the Divine Presence rests."[164] Furthermore, communal study contributes an element of happiness. Even a person who is used to studying in depth, and therefore prefers the peace and quiet of individual study, should complement his own studies by participating in these communal sessions.

Everyone should appreciate the need to participate in these efforts and see these guidelines as directed to him individually. Simultaneously, we should not interpret this as a private matter alone, but must endeavor to spread this message to every Jew. The responsibility to hasten Mashiach's coming is incumbent upon each member of our people.

The nature of the present year, the year when "I will show you wonders," creates a climate that is conducive to the success of these efforts. We have already seen great Divine miracles and will surely see more miracles in the future.[165] May these miracles include the ultimate miracles that will accompany the future redemption, when, "As in the days of your exodus from Egypt, I will show you wonders."[166]

   

Notes:

  1. (Back to text) More particularly, the birth of a son can be interpreted to the birth (revelation) of the soul of Mashiach.

  2. (Back to text) Mashiach's leprosy is not a reflection of his own personal state, heaven forbid. On the contrary, he will be on a very high level as reflected by the verse "My servant shall prosper, he will be exalted, extolled, and reach high peaks." From what does his leprosy stem? From "our sicknesses" and "our afflictions."

  3. (Back to text) In Hebrew, there is a difference between the words bosar which means "flesh" and or which means "skin." The leper's affliction is described as being "on his skin," i.e., his flesh which is closer to his inner being, remains unaffected.

    In this context, we can understand the use of the term nega tzora'as, generally rendered as "a leprous blemish." Nega literally means "touch," i.e., the leprosy merely touches the person's superficial dimensions. It does not have an affect on his inner being.

  4. (Back to text) The sublime nature of these lights is reflected by the fact that the words nega, ()" leprous blemish," and oneg, () "pleasure," share the same letters. The sublime lights associated with leprosy reflect oneg, the highest of the Divine qualities.

  5. (Back to text) On a larger scale, we see a similar concept explained in regard to the lights of Tohu. Because these lights are so sublime and transcendent in nature, there was the possibility for them to "fall" and from them, for the coarse materiality which characterizes our world to be derived.

    There is an intrinsic connection between the two concepts. Indeed, HaMetzora () is numerically equivalent to Tohu ().

  6. (Back to text) In Kabbalistic terminology, the Sefirah of Kesser in which is invested G-d's infinite light becomes manifest in Tiferes and indeed, in all the Sefiros of the middle vector. This generates the potential for the fusion of the right and left vectors.

  7. (Back to text) The fusion of ratzu and shuv is also reflected in the Torah portion which we begin reading in the Minchah service, Parshas Acharei. This portion begins by mentioning the death of Aharon's sons, an expression of ratzu without shuv, i.e., a longing for G-dliness so great that their souls actually expired. Yet the Torah teaches us that this is undesirable and that the ultimate service reflects a fusion of both thrusts.

    From this we come to the higher level which fuses these two thrusts together, Parshas Kedoshim which begins with the charge, "You shall be holy." On this our Sages question, "Can our holiness resemble G-d's?" Significantly, the Tzemach Tzedek explains that our Sages' question can be read as a statement, "Our holiness can resemble G-d's," reflecting the essential holiness possessed by every Jewish soul.

  8. (Back to text) Furthermore, we find that the Sages of that era pointed to certain individuals and said, "If Mashiach is among this generation, it is surely he," or they would suggest that Mashiach's name was that of one of the Sages of that generation. This further impresses upon us the immediacy of the possibility of Mashiach's coming.

  9. (Back to text) Indeed, this relationship is so complete that our Sages declared, "A person who teaches a colleague Torah is considered as if he brought him into existence."

  10. (Back to text) A birthday is a day when "the source of a person's soul shines powerfully." Thus, the second of Iyar is associated with the revelation of the Rebbe Maharash's essential qualities. The latter relates to the service of Lechat'chilah ariber, "Generally, people say, 'If you can't crawl under, try to climb over,' and I say, Lechatchilah ariber, 'Right from the outset, you should climb over.' "

  11. (Back to text) In his Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Melachim 11:1, the Rambam writes:

    In the future, the King Mashiach will arise.... Anyone who does not believe in him, or does not await his coming, denies not only [the statements of] the other prophets, but also [those of] the Torah and of Moshe, our teacher.

    Implied in the Rambam's statement is that even if a person believes that ultimately Mashiach will come, but does not anxiously await his arrival, he is considered to have denied Judaism's fundamental creed (Chiddushim U'Biurim BeShas, Vol. III, ch. 40).

  12. (Back to text) The intent is not that every day we should wait for Mashiach's ultimate coming, but that we should wait expectantly every day for Mashiach to come on that very day (Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXIII, p. 394).

  13. (Back to text) The twelfth of the Rambam's Thirteen Principles of Faith, as adapted and included in the thirteen statements beginning Ani Maamin which are recited every day in certain communities.

  14. (Back to text) Cf. Pirkei Avos 1:17.

  15. (Back to text) Sanhedrin 90a.

  16. (Back to text) Rambam, Hilchos Melachim 11:1.

  17. (Back to text) Rambam, Hilchos Teshuvah 9:2.

  18. (Back to text) Sefer HaMitzvos of the Tzemach Tzedek, Mitzvas Minui Melech.

  19. (Back to text) Or HaTorah, Shir HaShirim, p. 414ff.

  20. (Back to text) I Shmuel 10:23.

  21. (Back to text) Bava Basra 10a; see also Tanya, ch. 37.

  22. (Back to text) Sanhedrin 19b.

  23. (Back to text) Devarim Rabbah 1:20 and the Jerusalem Talmud, Taanis 4:4, interpret the verse "And a star shall shoot forth from Yaakov" (Bamidbar 24:17) as a reference to Mashiach, while the Jerusalem Talmud, Maaser Sheni 4:6, interprets the verse as a reference to an ordinary Jew. The two interpretations can be combined, for every Jew possesses a spark of Mashiach within his soul (Meor Einayim, Parshas Balak).

  24. (Back to text) The letter of the Baal Shem Tov, published in Ben Poras Yosef.

  25. (Back to text) Sanhedrin 39a.

  26. (Back to text) See the booklet entitled "I Will Show You Wonders," published by Sichos In English (1991).

  27. (Back to text) Michah 7:15.


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