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וזאת תהיה תורה המצורע ביום טהרתו

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

No purification process is more extensive than the one for the metzora. As soon as the plague surfaces, the metzora is to go to the Kohen. He is then isolated for seven days to see if it will disappear. If it is clearly tamei, a nega, plague, for which one becomes ritually impure, he is sent out of the three machanos, camps. He must be completely isolated with no one nearby and sit, wearing torn clothes, to ponder how he has ended up in this miserable place. Once the signs of impurity have disappeared and the metzora is declared healed,…

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להורות ביום הטמא וביום הטהור זאת תורת הצרעת

To rule on which day it is contaminated and on which day it is purified; this is the law of tzaraas. (14:57)

Horav Eliezer Waldenberg (Tzitz Eliezer) was asked to issue a halachic ruling concerning doctors in a teaching hospital, who, when making daily rounds, would be accompanied by any number of students. Is it permissible to teach the students under such circumstances in which the students having the information provides no benefit to the patient? In teaching, the doctor must reveal the patient’s illness and prognosis, when, in fact, it does nothing more than offer information to the students at the expense of the patient’s privacy. Is this a violation of the oath of confidentiality, doctor/patient privilege? Rav Waldenberg rules that…

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וביום השמיני ימול בשר ערלתו

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

Chazal (Midrash Tanchuma) teach that Bris Milah is so beloved to Hashem that the Almighty promised Avraham Avinu that anyone who is mahul, circumcised, will not descend to Gehinom, Purgatory. While this idea in and of itself is incredible, it becomes more compelling when we take into consideration that it grants a free pass to even the most profligate sinner. Horav Shalom Schwadron, zl, explains this based on the conclusion of the Midrash, “Come and see how much Klal Yisrael love the mitzvos. They spend (large amounts of) money to celebrate and fulfill the mitzvos with great joy – even…

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ובמלאות ימי טהרה ... תביא כבש בן שנתו לעולה ובן יונה או תור לחטאת

Upon the completion of the days of her purity… she shall bring a sheep within its first year for an elevation/burnt offering, and a young dove or a turtledove for a sin-offering. (12:6)

The Baal HaTurim notes that, throughout the Torah, turim, young doves, are mentioned before bnei yonah, turtledoves, except for the korban of the yoledes, postpartum sacrifice, when bnei yonah precede turim. He explains that the korban which the woman brings at the end of her yemei taharah, days of purification, consists of a single bird – either a tor or a ben yonah. The nature of the turtledove (which also goes by the name mourning dove) is that, when it is separated from its mate, it mourns it and refuses to mate with another. Therefore, it is more appropriate to…

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בדד ישב מחוץ למחנה מושבו

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

Alone means completely alone – not simply as the result of his impure state. If that would have been the case, he would have been able to congregate in a “metzora colony” where everyone like him was tamei, ritually impure. Indeed, Rashi says that he should be secluded from other metzoraim as well. The reason for this is quite simple. The slanderer is supposed to spend quality time introspecting his own faults, rather than focusing on those of others. When a group of negative people get together, they only see the faults of others, never of themselves. They create an…

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ותצא אש מלפני ד' ותאכל אותם וימותו לפני ד'

A fire came forth from before Hashem and consumed them, and they died before Hashem. (10:2)

The Talmud enumerates a number of deficiencies in the elevated rectitude of such tzaddikim as Nadav and Avihu, which led to their untimely tragic passing. One of the comments which begs elucidation is that they would walk behind Moshe Rabbeinu and Aharon HaKohen, with the rest of the nation following them, and they would say, “When will those two elders pass away, and you and I will lead the generation?” Hashem responded, “We will see who will bury whom.” Are we to believe that they were so callous as to “wait” for their father’s and uncle’s deaths; so that they…

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ויאמר משה אל אהרן הוא אשר דבר ד' לאמר בקרבי אקדש ועל פני כל העם אכבד וידם אהרן

Moshe said to Aharon: Of this did Hashem speak, saying: “I will be sanctified through those who are nearest Me; thus, I will be honored before the entire people.” And Aharon was silent. (10:3)

What happened to Nadav and Avihu and the circumstances under which their deaths occurred are beyond us. Chazal present various reasons for their untimely deaths, but these reasons apply only to someone who, like them, had reached the capstone of closeness with Hashem. The higher one is, the closer one gets, the more Hashem demands of him. Aharon HaKohen’s reaction (or non-reaction) is equally beyond us. Anyone who has himself – or known someone who has – sustained such a mind-numbing tragedy, either stands in awe of Aharon or questions him. His muted reaction is mind-boggling. As soon as the…

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ואת החזיר כי מפריס פרסה הוא ... והוא גרה לא יגר טמא הוא לכם

And the pig, for its hoof is split … but it does not chew its cud, it is unclean to you. (11:7)

The commentators explain the reason the Torah focuses on the pig’s singular kosher sign. The pig, which is the prototypical charlatan, puts forth its kosher sign as if declaring, “See, I am kosher,” expecting people to ignore that it does not chew its cud. Indeed, we have more to fear from those who claim to be observant than from those who do not conceal their estrangement from mitzvos. Despite its despicable nature in attempting to fool people, the chazir has one positive aspect to it, which is alluded by its name – chazir – which means “return.” The Shlah HaKadosh…

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אל חשקצו את נפשותיכם ... ולא תטמאו בהם ונטמתם בם

Do not draw abomination for yourselves… you shall not make yourselves impure, therewith, and thus become impure. (11:43)

Chazal (Yoma 39a) teach, “Sin stupefies the heart of a person who commits it.” This is noted from the pasuk, “Do not impurify yourselves with them, so you not be thereby impurified.” Do not read it as v’nitmeisem, and you will become impure. Rather, read it v’nitamtem, you will become stupefied/ befuddled/confused. In Yiddish, we would translate it as farshtupped, stuffed up. He no longer has control over himself; his sinful behavior seriously alters his ability to think rationally. Horav Eliyahu Lopian, zl, derives an important principle from here. When the Torah exhorts us al tishaktzu, do not draw abomination…

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צו את אהרן ואת בניו לאמר

Command Aharon and his sons, saying. (6:2)

The Torah begins the parshah with the laws concerning the Korban Olah, Elevation/Burnt Offering, in which the entire animal is burnt on the Altar. While the Torah introduces the laws of korbanos with the word v’amarta, “and you should say,” it introduces the Korban Olah with the more emphatic tzav, “command.” Rashi explains that this implies that the Torah is urging the Kohanim to be especially zealous in carrying out this service and to make a point to underscore this exhortation to future generations of Kohanim.  Rabbi Shimon (Kiddushin 29a) presents an additional caveat that this exhortation is especially relevant…

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