Join our weekly Peninim on the Torah list!

Category

Back to Home -> Tazria ->


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…

Continue Reading

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…

Continue Reading

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…

Continue Reading

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…

Continue Reading

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…

Continue Reading

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…

Continue Reading

וביום השמיני ימול בשר ערלתו

On the eighth day, the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. (12:3)

While every mitzvah in the Torah is an obligation to observe, mitzvas Milah, the commandment concerning circumcision, seems to be a mainstay – a mitzvah for which Jews throughout the millennia have sacrificed themselves. What is it about this mitzvah that impacts our lives to such an extent? The first time that this mitzvah is mentioned in the Torah is when Hashem commanded Avraham Avinu to circumcise himself. In his commentary to Parashas Emor, the Ramban teaches that with the execution of Bris Milah on his body, Avraham was transformed from a ben Noach, Noachide, to a ben Yisrael, Jew….

Continue Reading

וביום הראות בו בשר חי וטמא

On the day healthy flesh appears in it, it shall be contaminated. (13:14)

On some specific days, the Kohen does not view a nega, plague. A chassan, bridegroom, who has a suspicious nega is allowed the Shivas yimei hamishtah, Seven days of celebration following his wedding. Likewise, one whose plague appeared at the onset of Yom Tov is permitted for the seven days of the Festival. Why is this? Horav Chaim Zaitchik, zl, offers a practical explanation. The purpose of the metzora’s punishment is to knock him down a notch in his arrogance and in the way he treats his fellow man. He has an obnoxious manner of treating people, because he has…

Continue Reading

ובמלאת ימי טהרה לבן ולבת

Upon completion of the days of her purity for a son or for a daughter. (12:6)

The term “son” or “daughter” denotes a stronger, more definitive relationship than that implied by referring to a child as either one’s male or female offspring. A son is the product of a viable, strong relationship, part of a legacy, who serves as a link in a generational chain. He identifies with his parent as the product of a relationship forged on the principles of devotion to a Higher Power, to Hashem. “Son” or “daughter” indicates pedigree. Thus, we call attention to the fact that previously, in pesukim 2 and 5, the Torah refers to the woman’s offspring as a…

Continue Reading

וראה הכהן את הנגע בעור הבשר... וטמא אתו

And the Kohen shall look at the mark in the skin… and (he will) pronounce it unclean. (13:3)

One cannot study the laws of tzaraas and the reason for their occurrence and not be filled with pride that he is a Jew. Other religions pay lip service to social graces, human decency, and ethical behavior. Nonetheless, they are not part of their corpus of laws. One is encouraged to be ethical, distance himself from avarice, not commit social sins, but if he does, it is not the end of the world. Imagine censuring a politician for lying! We would have no government! On the other hand, our Torah’s inclusion of Hilchos Negaim, laws concerning plagues, indicates that Hashem…

Continue Reading

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our weekly Peninim on the Torah list!

You have Successfully Subscribed!