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זאת תהיה תורת המצורע

This shall be the law of the Metzora. (14:2)

The Torah devotes no less than 115 pesukim (Tazria-Metzora) to the various forms of tzaraas and their purification process. Clearly the lengthy focus on tzaraas indicates the significance the Torah extends to the precursor of tzaraas: lashon hora, evil/slanderous speech. The motzi shem ra, individual who uses his tongue to propagate negative information about a fellow Jew, is the one who becomes the tzaraas victim. Thus, the parshiyos dealing with the tzaraas plagues indicate the severity of lashon hora. Interestingly, the only allusion in the Torah that connects tzaraas with lashon hora is in Devarim 24:8,9 when the Torah admonishes…

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זאת תהיה תורת המצורע

This shall be the law of the metzora. (14:2)

The Talmud (Horayos 12b) relates that Rava asked Rav Nachman if a Kohen Gadol who was afflicted with tzaraas, spiritual leprosy, may marry a widow. (Under normal circumstances, the Kohen Gadol may not marry a widow. However, since as a metzora he is disqualified from serving, perhaps the prohibition against marrying a widow would not presently pertain to him.) The answer was not available to him. On another occasion, Rav Pappa raised the same question to Rav Nachman. This time, Rav Huna, son of Rav Nachman, interjected with the answer that, just as a Kohen Gadol who becomes tamei, ritually…

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ובא אשר לו הבית... והבא אל הבית ... יטמא

The one to whom the house belongs shall come… (14:35) Anyone who comes into the house…shall be contaminated (14:46)

A house that has a tzaraas plague, appear on its structure is rendered tamei, ritually contaminated. This is a miraculous phenomenon which occurs only in Eretz Yisrael. If it does not disappear, the walls – and, at times, the entire structure – is demolished. Initially (Ramban), tzaraas on a house is Hashem’s subtle rebuke to its owner. Something is amiss in his behavior. The house is his first warning. Hashem first afflicts (he who is deserving) something outside of his body. If he does not listen to the message and positively alters his demeanor, the ailment will spread to his…

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כי תבואו אל ארץ כנען ... ונתתי נגע צרעת בבית ארץ אחוזתכם

When you arrive in the land of Canaan… and I will place a tzaraas affliction upon a house in the land of your possession. (14:34)

A well-known Rashi teaches that the news concerning a plague of tzaraas appearing on one’s house was to be taken with a grain of salt. While at first it seems tragic that one should suffer the loss of his home, there was a rewarding caveat to the destruction of the house. When the Canaanim heard of the impending arrival of the Jews into the land which they had inhabited, they hid their treasures in the walls, so that the Jews would not benefit from them. Now that the house was destroyed, the concealed places revealed all of the hidden treasure….

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בדד ישב מחוץ למחנה מושבו

He shall dwell in isolation; his dwelling shall be outside the camp. (13:46)

Someone comes over and says, “Have you heard the latest about Moshe?” (Fictitious name) The perfect response, as noted by the Baalei Mussar, Ethicists, is: “Let me ask you a simple question. Did you make it your business to run the information (concerning Moshe) through your three sieves?” “What three sieves?” you ask. “Well, the first sieve is the one of emes, truth. Are you absolutely certain that what you are about to say is true?” At this point, the individual who was about to share a nice bit of information hesitates and says, “I heard it from someone whom…

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בגדיו יהיו פרומים וראשו יהיה פרוע

His clothes shall be rent, his head shall be wild. (13:45)

It is vital that people recognize that the metzora, spiritual leper, is impure, and, as a result, people will veer away from him. The Sefer HaChinuch explains the source/root of this mitzvah. (Not a reason, because reasons are not given for mitzvos. Mitzvos are mandated, and only Hashem knows the true reason.) The metzora should take his distancing from his people as an example for his neshamah, soul. A person is distanced from all good as a result of his sin, in order that he be inspired to repent from his evil way. As a result of his slanderous speech…

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וצוה הכהן ולקח למטהר שתי צפרים חיות טהרות ועץ ארז ושני תולעת ואזב

The Kohen shall command to take for the person undergoing purification two live, pure birds (kosher), cedar wood, crimson thread, and hyssop. (14:4)

The commentators explain that the purification process is all about infusing the metzora with a sense of humility. The cedar wood represents his arrogant nature prior to his sin, with the crimson thread (crimson is the product of a dye taken from a lowly worm), hyssop, a lowly bush, atoning for his previous haughtiness (when these substances are dipped into the blood of the birds). Horav Shimon Schwab, zl (cited by his son in Rav Schwab on Chumash), suggests that these three items: cedar wood, crimson thread and hyssop represent three types of people who need to focus on the…

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ונתתי נגע צרעת בבית ארץ אחזתכם

And I will place a tzaraas affliction upon the house in the land of your possession. (14:34)

Parashas Tazria/Metzora describe the laws of tzaraas, a form of spiritual leprosy, that struck a person as a result of deficient, slanderous, maligning speech. Obviously, deficient speech is rooted in a deficient character. Chazal teach that prior to tzaraas being afflicted on one’s body, Hashem conveys subtle messages, such as plagues appearing on his clothing or on the walls of his home. It is only after the slanderer has chosen to ignore His messages that the plagues appear on his body. It would, thus, make sense that the Torah would teach the laws of tzaraas affecting all three locations in…

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זאת תהיה תורת המצרע ביום טהרתו והובא אל הכהן

This shall be the law of the metzora on the day of his purifications: He shall be brought to the Kohen. (14:2)

Modesty, privacy, hatznea leches, is a principle to which we should all adhere. The Navi Michah exhorts us to “walk modestly with Hashem” (Michah 6:8). When a person acts modestly in public, it is easier to feel a sense of pride and have ulterior motives (even) when serving Hashem. When a person acts modestly in private, these ulterior motives are not an issue, since no one sees him. The Noam Elimelech observes that this is true only when one wishes to come close to Hashem via his service. He must walk on the path of modesty. The baal teshuvah, penitent,…

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זאת תהיה תורת המצרע ביום טהרתו והובא אל הכהן

This shall be the law of the metzora on the day of his purification: He shall be brought to the Kohen. (14:2)

Chazal (Arachin 15) Reish Lakish said: “What is the meaning of that which is written, ‘This shall be the law of the motzi shem ra (slanderer)?’” Chazal equate the affliction of tzaraas with the prohibition against motzi shem ra, slander. One who resorts to evil/defamatory speech will deservedly become afflicted with tzaraas, spiritual leprosy (for lack of a better term). Certain aspects of tzaraas/motzi shem ra should be addressed. Shlomo Hamelech says (Mishlei 18:21), Ha’ma’ves v’ha’chaim b’yad ha’lashon; “Death and life are in the hand (power) of the tongue.” This often – quoted pasuk is most identified with lashon hora,…

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