For the week ending 5 April 2003 / 3 Nisan 5763

Parshat Tazria

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.



"When a woman conceives..." (12:2)

If Man is worthy if he makes his soul the essence of his being then he precedes all Creation. The spirit of Man that hovered over the depths even before the creation of light. But if he is not worthy if he glories in his physical dimension then in terms of the physical precedence of Creation, even the mosquito preceded him.

For this reason the Torah deals with the laws of purity in Man after the laws of purity in animals: Just as the physical creation of Man follows that of the animals, so too his laws are explained after the laws of the animals. This applies, however, only when Man behaves like nothing more than a sophisticated animal. However, if he relegates his physical side to his soul, if he fulfills the purpose of Creation by recognizing and serving his Creator, then he precedes all Creation.

(Based on the Midrash and Rashi)


"And on the eighth day, the flesh of the foreskin shall be circumcised." (12:3)

The greatness of Shabbat can be seen from the fact that a boy is not given brit mila until he is eight days old, until he has experienced Shabbat. In other words, the reason that brit mila is performed on the eighth day after birth is so that the he can experience Shabbat before the mila. Only by passing through the holiness of Shabbat can he reach a level where he becomes fit to enter into the holiness of the Jewish People through brit mila.

(Yalkut Yehuda)


"And on the eighth day, the flesh of the foreskin shall be circumcised." (12:3)

The custom at a brit is to say to the parents "Just as he has been brought into the Covenant (brit), so should he be brought to Torah, marriage and good deeds." Just as he has been brought into the brit, which is now an inseparable part of him, thus also should all the other mitzvot of the Torah form an inseparable part of him.

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