The Torah teaches about a disease that was prevalent in ancient times known as Tzara’at. According to Chazal this disease befell a person as a punishment for speaking Lashon Harah, slander. Miriam was so afflicted when she spoke against Moshe. When the person recovered from this misfortune the Torah proscribes in this week’s Portion that he is to bring a sacrifice which included two birds: VE’ETZ EREZ USHNI TOLA’AT VE’EZOV, “…cedarwood, and crimson thread, and hyssop”.(Lev. 14,4)
What is the meaning of these latter items? The hyssop is a lowly plant and this is used to teach that a person should hold himself lowly and not try to belittle others as this unfortunate person did. On the other had he also brings a twig from the cedar which contrary to the hyssop is a tall majestic tree. We know the Tanach talks about the cedars of Lebanon, the lofty and mighty trees. There are times when a person must raise himself like the cedar and take a firm stand and talk with authority against wrong that he sees.
The purpose of the crimson thread was to combine the cedar and the hyssop and to strike a balance. It comes to teach that one should be wise enough to be able to balance the two and to know when to use each of these two extremes.