Torah Weekly

For the week ending 29 April 2017 / 3 Iyyar 5777

Parshat Tazria - Metzora

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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The Torah commands a woman to bring a korban after the birth of a child. A son is to be circumcised on the eighth day of his life. The Torah introduces the phenomenon of tzara'at (often mistranslated as leprosy) — a miraculous affliction that attacks people, clothing and buildings to awaken a person to spiritual failures. A kohen must be consulted to determine whether a particular mark is tzara'at or not. The kohen isolates the sufferer for a week. If the malady remains unchanged, confinement continues for a second week, after which the kohen decides the person's status. The Torah describes the different forms of tzara'at. One whose tzara'at is confirmed wears torn clothing, does not cut his hair, and must alert others that he is ritually impure. He may not have normal contact with people. The phenomenon of tzara'at on clothing is described in detail.


The Torah describes the procedure for a metzora (a person afflicted with tzara'at) upon conclusion of his isolation. This process extends for a week and involves korbanot and immersions in the mikveh. Then, a kohen must pronounce the metzora pure. A metzora of limited financial means may substitute lesser offerings for the more expensive animals. Before a kohen diagnoses that a house has tzara'at, household possessions are removed to prevent them from also being declared ritually impure. The tzara'at is removed by smashing and rebuilding that section of the house. If it reappears, the entire building must be razed. The Torah details those bodily secretions that render a person spiritually impure, thereby preventing his contact with holy items, and the Torah defines how one regains a state of ritual purity.


Foggy Spectacles

“When a leprous blemish will be in a person he shall be brought to the kohen” (13:9)

A well-known ba’al mussar (ethics master) once began a shiur thus:

"I was seventeen the first time I learned Orchot Tzadikim. The first two chapters of Orchot Tzadikim deal with the negative aspects of the character trait known as “pride”. I thought to myself, ‘Well, I don't have that problem. I can skip to chapter three.’ It took me until I was twenty-three to realize what a true ba’al ga’avah (haughty person) I was."

Truth be told, we are all legends in our own lunchtimes, so to speak. “The world is full of flawed individuals — but I'm not one of them. It's true I'm not perfect, but there's really nothing wrong with me."

And it's not because we are lying to ourselves. We genuinely believe that we're okay. It's just that our eyesight fails when turned inward. Thus, if we really want to know what's wrong with us we have to trust constructive criticism from those who know and care for us.

“When a leprous blemish will be in a person, he shall be brought to the kohen.

The verse doesn't specify what kind of “person” we are referring to here. Meaning, when a leprous blemish will be in a person — even if that person himself is a kohen — it shall be brought to the kohen, for he himself will never see the blemish.

  • Source: Talelei Orot

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