Parshat Tazria- Metzora Vol.10 No.29

Date of issue: 5 Iyar 5761 -- April 28, 2001

This week's issue of Kol Torah has
been sponsored by TABC 
in honor of Avi-Gil, Moshe, Dani and Daniel 
in recognition of all their hard work for Kol Torah.
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The Kol Torah staff would also like to take this opportunity to thank the outgoing staff:
Avi-Gil Chaitovsky and Dani Gross 
our Editors-in-Chief.
Daniel Wenger for making Kol Torah available on the World Wide Web at 
Moshe Glasser for his work on behalf of Kol Torah. 
We would also like to thank Rabbi Grumet and Mr. Speiser for assisting him in securing the web site

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This week's featured writers:

Rabbi Hershel Solnica
Dani Shaffren
Donny Manas
Jonathan Weinstein
Rabbi Howard Jachter
-*Tevilat Keilim - Part I *
Halacha of the Week
Food For Thought
-by *David Gertler and Uri Schechter*

The Soul of a Jew
by Rabbi Hershel Solnica

After Pesach it is a Minhag for Jews throughout the world to study Massechet Avot. This tractate in Talmud seems to deal with rules of character, common sense, and intelligent behavior.

In the Sefer "Baruch Sheamar," Hagaon Harav Baruch Epstein zatza"l states that the Talmud (Bava Kama 30a) teaches us Hai Maan Debai Lemehavei Chassida.... If you want to be a "Chassid" (which means a very observant, pious person who does more than he or she is expected to do), one should a) study Ethics of our fathers b) be careful with Brachot c) be diligent with Nizkei (Civil laws).

Harav Epstein questions why observing these three areas are unique to a Chassid. Avot deals with common sense, practical, and intelligent behavior. Observing the laws of Berachot is also not an issue of piety, since the Talmud (Berachot 35a) states Haochel Beli Bracha Keilu Gozel Mehakadosh Baruch Hu, "One who eats without a Beracha is robbing from the Almighty." And finally, civil laws that relate to Nezikin, damages, are certainly not issues of piety but rather of civil obedience.

The answer is that the passage in Bava Kama has a deeper and more subtle meaning. In Ethics of Our Fathers, Pirkei Avot, we are taught Siyag Lechachma Shtika, "A fence to wisdom is silence." This seems to be a matter of common sense. However, a Jew with a Neshama understands this to mean not only is silence golden, but words must be measured and be dignified. Too many pious, religious, and fine Jews lose control of their mouth and lavish its use with Lashon Hara, idle talk, and abusive and vulgar language. Berachot is not simply thanking God for what we eat and what we have, but saying that we appreciate these gifts, for were it not for the grace of God. I Efshar Laamod Afilu Shaah Achat, "We wouldn't be able to survive an hour" (the conclusion of the blessing after leaving a restroom).

Observing civil law- Nezikin- implies more than merely not breaking another's possessions. It implies Yehi Mamon Chavercha Chaviv Alecha Kishelcha, "consider the money or property of your neighbor as if it were yours." We don't merely avoid breaking another's objects. Rather, we care and respect it as we respect our own.
These attitudes constitute the core of the soul of a Jew. They do not constitute Halacha (Jewish law) and they are difficult to concretize but they are clear to the sensitive eye and heart.

We must come to grips with an ethical reality. We are the way we dress, we are the way we speak, we are the way we treat others and as we care less for the needs of others so we lose our own self esteem, individuality, and dignity.
Let's Daven better, let's dress like Bnai Torah, let's be caring of and sensitive to all people of any faith or color.

The soul of a Jew defines our character even more than the laws that we observe.


Twisted Meaning
by Dani Shaffren

The Parsha of Tazria deals with several Negaim, afflictions, of a person's skin, clothing, or even his house. Ramban states that these afflictions can only apply to Jews. This demonstrates that these Negaim, specifically Tzaraat, are not conventional physical ailments, but spiritual punishments for sins such as arrogance, Lashon Hara, or greed. This is why when someone develops Tzaraat, the Kohen, a spiritual leader, is called, rather than a doctor. 

The Sifrei Mussar (ethical works) teach that the word for skin is Or with an 'Ayin', while a homonym (according to Ashkenazic pronunciation) of this word is Or with an 'Aleph', meaning light. Similarly, the word for an affliction is a Nega. The letters of this word can be transformed to say Oneg, which is delight and enjoyment. Also, the most common affliction in the Torah is Tzaraat whose letters can be switched to say Atzeret, which is a word used for a holiday. 

One can learn from this that if someone were to sin, he would contaminate his skin, Or, causing a Nega which would lead to him developing Tzaraat. All of this can be changed; the Nega is meant to be a wake-up call, telling the person that he is doing bad things. If he adheres to this call, then he will have the opportunity to purify himself. He will be able to change the Or (with an 'Ayin'), to Or (with an 'Aleph'),the Nega to Oneg, and the Tzaraat to an Atzeret. 

The Sfat Emet explains the meaning of these changes. He writes that when people were first created, the Or, light, of Hashem came into their bodies. Then Adam sinned and his Or, skin, covered up the light of Hashem. Human skin has pores, which allow the light to penetrate through and guide us, but when we sin, the Nega Tzaraat covers the pores and does not allow the light to come through. When this is healed, and the afflicted person is allowed back with his family, the Nega is transformed into an Oneg because of the happiness, and the Tzaraat is transformed into an Atzeret, a mini holiday for the person who is healed, and returns to his family.

White Matter
by Donny Manas

Parshat Metzora states that a Metzora (a person inflicted with Tzaraat) must go out of the camp, and "he shall dwell alone." Do the words, "He shall dwell alone," mean that he must be by himself, or is he allowed to stay with other Metzoraim?

The Raavad explains that when a Metzora is sent out he is being excommunicated and therefore is forbidden to sit within four Amot of anyone, including another Metzora. Tzafnat Pane'ach cites Berachot 54b, where we are told of two people who were Metzoraim who walked together outside the camp. Rashi (Menachot 95a) states that people who were Metzoraim were sent outside of the whole camp, and they would walk together outside the camp. Chazal also state that if a Metzora is tied up, another Metzora is allowed to go and untie him. These citations constitute ample proof that the Metzora is allowed to be in contact with another Metzora, but perhaps the most striking one is in Melachim II (7:3), where the Navi records that four Metzoraim lived together outside of the city.

The Malbim proves that Metzoraim can stay together outside of the camp from the word Badad, alone. He says that the word Galmud is a more appropriate word for isolation because the word Badad doesn't only refer to an individual, but also to a group. We see this in Bemidbar (23:9), where it says, "Bnai Yisrael shall dwell alone," referring to many people. Ail Miluim states that a person who is afflicted with Tzaraat from speaking Lashon Hara may not be in contact even with another Metzora, while a person who suffers from it as a result of a different sin may be in contact with other Metzoraim. One may utilize this approach to refute the proof cited from Melachim II (7:3). The Gemara (Sanhedrin 107b) asks who these four people mentioned in Melachim were, and it answers that it was Geichazi and his three sons. Chazal ask how it was possible that they were able to be together, and they answer similar to the approach of the Ail Miluim that they were afflicted with Tzaraat as a result of a sin, other than Lashon Hara.


Repenting From Evil
by Jonathan Weinstein

This week's Parshiot teach the laws concerning leprosy of the body, clothes, and houses. There's a question on these Parshiot as to whether they talk about leprosy from a medical angle (giving treatment for a disease) or from a spiritual perspective (fixing evil ways). Many scholars have tried to answer this question. The Abravanel explains that the Torah teaches how to prevent leprosy. The Torah says that you should not wear wool and linen when you have leprosy because these materials can become impure.
Why does the Torah distinguish leprosy from all the other diseases that man is afflicted with? The Torah wants man to use his abilities to improve the world and find cures for diseases. Why did the Torah choose to talk about leprosy and how to treat it? These are plagues that have to do with leprosy and after every symptom appears on a person, he must wait 7 days. First the Torah says that the Kohen inspects the leper and the leper waits outside the camp. Then the Torah talks about that the Kohen inspecting the clothes and the house of the leper and waiting for seven days until a subsequent inspection. We see that the Torah is trying to motivate the leper to repent. First the leprosy appears on the house, and if the owner repents, the leprosy won't return. If he does not repent, then the discolored stones must be removed. This continues if the person does not want to repent; his house is destroyed and leprosy appears on his body. If he continues not to repent then he is isolated outside the camp. This shows that the Torah is trying to make the leper repent from his evil ways. We see that Tzaraat is not a physical ailment. Rather, it is a special phenomenon intended to motivate the leper to repent.

The Seforno states that God wanted to motivate the person repent. Thus, God performed an obvious miracle, the plague, in order for that person to understand that he did something wrong and to repent. The Seforno states that God did this for people with high morals who did something wrong. God seeks to warn him of his wrongdoing in order for him to repent. We conclude with Rambam (Hilchot Tumat Tzaraat 16:10) telling us about the significance of leprosy in the Torah. He says that leprosy is when the skin turn white and your hair and beard fall out. Also, the color of your house and your clothes change colors. The house and clothes changing colors is something supernatural to warn the Jews not to talk evil. If a person speaks evil, the walls of his house change colors, and if he repents, the walls become clean. If he does not repent after his house is destroyed and his skin changes color then he is isolated from the camp. A person who speaks evil once might start speaking evil often. Then he might speak evil against the righteous and then against the Prophets.

This would lead him to speak evil against God. The children of Israel speak the words of Torah and when they speak evil against someone then God will help them repent back to their good ways.


Halacha of the Week

Rav Yehudah Henkin of Jerusalem has ruled that it is forbidden to listen to a radio broadcast on Motzai Shabbat of a ballgame where the announcer is Jewish and the game is being played in a different time zone where it is still Shabbat. Please consult your Rav for guidance concerning this matter. 

Food for Thought
by David Gertler and Uri Schechter

1) Why does the Torah use the unique term Tazria, to say that the woman conceived, when in most other places it uses the word Vetaher? (Note that Onkelos translates them to the same word.)

2) Why by Tzaraat of the house is anything taken out of the afflicted house before the Kohen actually pronounces it Tameh considered Tahor. Is there any other area of Halacha like this?

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