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Thursday, April 3, 2008

Parashat Tazria

Parasha: Tazria – Leviticus 12:1 – 13:59
Haftara: 2Kings 4:42-5:19
Reading date: 5th April 2008 – 29th Adar Bet 5768

12:4 Seven days after giving birth to a baby boy, the mother immerses herself to remove the ‘niddah’ contamination, following which she assumes a new status for the next thirty three days. She remains in a partial state of contamination, until she brings her offering at the end of the thirty three day period.

13:2 The popular translation for ‘tza’arat’ has been leprosy but it could in fact be many various afflictions. It was commonly accepted that prevention of the disease’s spread was the reason for the quarantine of a person smitten with the disease. Hirsch proposes that ‘tza’arat’ is the physical manifestation of a spiritual dilemma. He maintains that the primary cause of of ‘tza’arat’ is sin or slander. Similarly he sees it as a punishment for the sins of bloodshed, false oaths, sexual immorality, pride, robbery and selfishness (Arachin 16a, Midrash). Thus ‘tza’arat’ is YHVH’s retribution for the offender’s failure to feel the needs and share the hurts of others. YHVH isolates him so that he can experience the pain and hurt he has placed on others.

13:30 ‘Nesek’ is the name of the ‘tza’arat’ of the scalp or beard area. It is the type of infection that causes hair loss.

13:40-44 In the case someone loses all the hair of the back of his head (karachat), of the front half of his head (gabachat), or his beard, the newly bald skin is treated like shin anywhere else on the body.

13:45-46 The list of the afflictions is complete and the Torah goes on to the laws relating to the behavior of the afflicted. The rules of his isolation from the community are given in these two verses, and they apply to all the cases in this chapter. The procedure of the cleansing ritual is in next weeks parasha.

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