Parasha Tazria

Parasha Tazria

Parasha for the Week: Tazria: Leviticus 12:1 - 13:59.

Aftarah for the Week: 2 Kings 4:42 - 5:19.

Besorat Yeshua: Mark 1:29 - 45.

Overview

The Torah commands a woman to bring a korban (sacrifice) after the birth of a child. A son is to be circumcised on the eighth day of his life.

A Cohen must be consulted to determine whether a particular mark is tzara'at (leprous) or not.

The Cohen isolates the sufferer for a week. If the malady remains unchanged, confinement continues for a second week, after which the Cohen 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.

Circumcision

The Parasha begins with the mitzvah of circumcision. "And the L-rd spoke to Moshe saying, Speak to the children of Israel: If a woman conceived and gave birth to a boy; on the eighth day, he shall be circumcised." The mitzvah of circumcision was first given to Abraham.

Gossip and Slander

The Torah says, "This is the law of the Metzora” (Leviticus 14:2). . . . "When a man shall have in the skin of his flesh a swelling, a scab, or bright spot, and it be in the skin of his flesh the plague of 'tzora'as,' then he shall be brought to Aharon the priest, or to one of his sons the priest" (Leviticus 13:2).

Miriam, Moses' sister, came down with this affliction called Tzara'at when she was participating in gossip and slander against Moses' wife Ziporah. The term used for speaking slander is lashon hara, defamatory speech, against others. When people say negative things about others, they frequently rationalize that it is proper for them to say what they are saying. One common excuse is that they are telling the truth. The other person has done so much wrong that it is important to publicize what a bad person they are. They claim that they would never do this without having elevated intentions and that they are actually performing a Mitzvah.

Although their claims might sound good at first, they cause hatred, quarrels and pain. Therefore, the person with tzara'as was sent to Aharon, the priest. If one speaks slander, in Biblical times an affliction of tzora'as would progressively afflict his home, then clothes and finally his skin -- unless the individual corrected his ways and followed the purification process stated in the Torah. The Cohen is consulted to determine if the affliction is actually tzora'as; if it is tzora'as on the walls of the home, then everything inside requires purification. When the Cohen is called to make the determination, the Torah tells us that: "The Cohen shall command that they empty the house, before the Cohen goes in to see the plague so that everything in the house will not become tamay (require purification). Afterwards the Cohen shall go in to see the house" (Leviticus 14:36).

Isolation from Others

The Torah states regarding tzara'at, "All the days the plague is in him . . . he shall dwell alone; outside the camp shall his dwelling be" (Leviticus 13:46). Why is the person who is afflicted with tzara'at (who is called the metzora) commanded to dwell outside of the camp? God in His wisdom taught us to have such a person with a communicable disease put in quarantine.

Selfishness and Sharing the Torah

Speaking about the death of the students of Rabbi Akiva, the Talmud (Yevamos 62b) says that they did not treat each other with respect. The Midrash (Bereishis Rabba 61:3) says that they exhibited tzarus ayin, selfishness, with regard to their Torah and did not share it with one another. The Torah is one's most precious possession, but it must not become a means of personal aggrandizement. When one truly appreciates their fellow believers and honors them, they desire to share their tools for service of God with them. In this vein, sharing one's Torah is the supreme expression of honor for one's fellow humans.

Haftara: 2 Kings 4:42 - 5:19

Parasha: In the text of the parasha we have the description of "tzara'at" leprosy. When a person has on the skin of his body a swelling or an eruption or a spot, and it turns into a leprous disease on the skin of his body, he shall be brought to Aaron the priest or to one of his sons the priests. The priest shall examine the disease on the skin of his body, and if the hair in the diseased area has turned white and the disease appears to be deeper than the skin of his body, it is a leprous disease; after the priest has examined him he shall pronounce him ceremonially unclean (Leviticus 13:2-3).

Haftara: The old Jewish tradition has seen this parasha in connection with leprosy. That's why the corresponding text in the Haftara is about Naaman, a Syrian who gets leprosy. Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man and in high favor with his master (2Kings 5:1). This man was highly appreciated, by man and by G-d. In his house was a young Jewish girl who served Naaman's wife. This young girl believed with all her heart in the G-d of Israel; she was sure that her master could be healed by G-d and his prophet. There is no discrimination of people by G-d; Jews and Gentiles are loved and receive blessings if they are faithful people.

Naaman went to the king of Israel and then to the prophet Elisha. Elisha sent him to the Jordan river to be immersed seven times; then he would be healed. Naaman was reluctant to go immerse himself in the Jordan River. He was upset that Elisha himself did not come out to meet him but rather sent a servant with the instructions. He expected Elisha to come to him and perform some ceremony in an elaborate fashion to appease the god and perform the miracle. He was upset that he had traveled so far only to be told to take a bath. He said, "don't we have nicer rivers in Syria that I could wash in instead of this muddy Jordan River?" He was put off by what he perceived as an insult from Elisha. But Naaman's men urged him to immerse himself in the Jordan River reasoning that if the prophet had asked him to do some great thing, would he not have done it, why not just try this simple thing? So he went down and immersed himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; his flesh was restored like the flesh of a young boy, and he was clean (2Kings 5:14).

He went back to the prophet and confessed that the G-d of Israel is the true G-d, "Now I know that there is no God in all the earth except in Israel" (2Kings 5:15). Naamam wanted to reward the prophet of G-d, but Elisha refused, I will accept nothing (2Kings 5:16). Elisha's selfish servant ran after Naaman and told him that Elisha changed needed the money for a friend. Naaman gave the servant the money, and the servant came down with leprosy.

Besorat Yeshua: Mark 1:29 - 45

Parasha: The texts of the parasha and of the Haftara are about leprosy, Leprosy is a special sickness, which make people unclean and isolated from the rest of the world. This sickness was considered as contagious and the people who were touched by leprosy had to cry in the streets "UNCLEAN, UNCLEAN" (Lev. 13:45) in order not to be in contact with anyone and not to contaminate them. However, the Bible gives hope to those with leprosy; they can be healed. Leviticus 14 explains all the process to be cleansed from Leprosy.

Besorah: In the Besorah we have also many texts where Yeshua was in contact with people suffering from leprosy; he always helped them to be cleansed. Once, when he was in one of the cities, there was a man covered with leprosy. When he saw Yeshua, he bowed with his face to the ground and begged him, ‘L-rd, if you choose, you can make me clean.’ Then Yeshua stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, "I do choose. Be made clean." Immediately the leprosy left him (Luke 5:12-13). In the stories we have in the Besorah we see that Yeshua was very careful to follow the law given by G-d in the Sinai. In Leviticus 14 we have all the details of what a leprosy has to do, The LORD spoke to Moses, saying: This shall be the ritual for the leprous person at the time of his cleansing: He shall be brought to the priest; the priest shall go out of the camp, and the priest shall make an examination. If the disease is healed in the leprous person, the priest shall command that two living clean birds and cedarwood and crimson yarn and hyssop be brought for the one who is to be cleansed (Leviticus 14:2-4). In fact the process continues; it is very long one and a complicated one. Yeshua did not want to appear as one who don't follow the Torah; all his life he followed the Torah, and he said to this leprous man, "show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony" (Mark 1:44).

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