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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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והצרוע אשר בו הנגע בגדיו יהיו פרמים וראשו יהיה פרוע ועל שפם יעתה וטמא טמא יקרא

And the person with tzaraas in whom there is the affliction, his garments shall be rent, the hair of his head shall be unshorn, and he shall cloak himself up to his lips; he is to call out, “Contaminated, contaminated!” (13:45)

The Yalkut Shemoni explains that the metzora calls out to others: “Tamei, impure! Tamei, impure!” so that his pain will be publicized to others. Thus, they will daven for his cure. Horav Yitzchak Zilberstein, Shlita, says that having other Jews daven for their friend in need is not simply a laudable practice, but the designated purpose in Creation. He quotes the Abarbanel who explains why the Torah commences its introduction to the Creation of the world in the third person (Bereishis bara Elokim; In the beginning of G-d’s creation…), rather than Hashem speaking in first person (Ani barasi, I created…). This…

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וראהו הכהן וטמא אתו

The Kohen shall look at it and declare it contaminated. (13:3)

There are various ways to view an occurrence, especially if it takes place following sinful behavior. The common perspective is that if the event follows a sin, especially if this event is accompanied with physical and emotional pain, it is a punishment for the preceding transgression. Someone with a penetrating cognitive gaze might see beyond what appears to be a punishment and define it as restorative and purifying. This is how we should look at the tumah of tzaraas. The Torah decreed that the tumah of tzaraas (spiritual leprosy,) as well as its purification, be declared by the Kohen. One…

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ובמלאת ימי טהרה לבן או לבת תביא כבש... וכפר עליה הכהן וטהרה

Upon the completion of the days of her purity for a son or for a daughter, she shall bring a sheep… And the Kohen shall provide atonement for her, and she shall become purified. (12:6,8)

The Talmud (Niddah 31b) explains that when the yoledes, new mother, offers a korban as she is about to give birth, with the accompanying pain of childbirth she might take a personal vow not to have any more children. Obviously, this vow is short-lived. Thus, she brings a korban to atone for her impetuosity. Horav Chaim Zaitchik, zl, offers a practical reason for the korban – one to which we can all relate– childbirth or not. In the course of life we confront challenges – some overwhelming, others only in our minds. Regardless of the adversity that we face, we are…

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אשה כי תזריע וילדה זכר

When a woman conceives and gives birth to a male. (12:2)

The Midrash Rabbah (Vayikra Rabbah 14) quotes the pasuk in Sefer Tehillim (139:5), Achor va’kedem tzartani, “You have created me behind and before.” Rabbi Yochanan said, “If man merits, he inherits two worlds, This World and The World to Come (Olam Habba). This is what is meant by, “You have created me behind and before” (referring to This World and The World to Come), and, if not (if he does not merit), he comes to give a din v’cheshbon, judgment/justification and a reckoning. The terms din v’cheshbon have been immortalized in Pirkei Avos 3:1, Akavya ben Mehallel says, “Consider three…

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וטמא טמא יקרא

He is to call out: “Contaminated, contaminated!” (13:45)

The metzora, individual afflicted with a spiritually-originated form of leprosy, is isolated. In an effort to safeguard people from coming in contact with him, he must warn people to stay away by calling out: “Contaminated, contaminated!” Chazal (Moed Kattan 5a) offer another reason for his declaration of spiritual contamination. Letting people know of his circumstances, informing them of his pain, will motivate them to pray for his recovery. A homiletic rendering of the pasuk is very appropriate and practical. V’tamei, one who is himself contaminated – ie, one who is a victim of his own shortcomings – will make a…

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כל ימי אשר הנגע בו יטמא טמא הוא בדד ישב מחוץ למחנה מושבו

All the days that the affliction is upon him, he shall remain impure; he is impure. He shall stay in isolation; his dwelling shall be outside the camp. (13:46)

Not only must the metzora be isolated from pure, healthy people, but even those who are also impure are to be isolated from him (Rashi). The commentators debate concerning the identity of these impure ones to whom Rashi refers. Some say this refers to individuals who are in a severe state of impurity, such as those who have been in contact with the dead. They are not banished from all three camps – as are those who are afflicted with tzaraas. Others contend that Rashi refers to other metzoraim, who may not stay together outside all three camps. Rashi explains why…

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