Parshat Tazria 5784: Tzara’at, and 7 October?

Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua — Parshat Tazria is being sponsored by Me dedicated for the safety of the Chayalim and the liberation of all hostages and their being brought home whole physically, mentally and spiritually as well as for the good health and security of kol Am Yisrael.

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.

Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
skype: mark.burt3

Parshat Tazria 5784: Tzara’at, and 7 October?

by Moshe Burt

Rabbi Shmuel Goldin writes in his sefer “Unlocking the Torah Text”, Sefer Vayikra as a summary, asks questions and provides context on Parshat Tazria (pages 81, 101, 104-106) :

After a… section reviewing the laws of tumat yoledet (impurity resulting from childbirth), Parshat Tazria quickly turns its attention to the primary topic…: the diagnosis and treatment of tumah brought about by the plague of tzara’at, biblical leprosy.

The Torah reviews, in great depth, a wide variety of physical ailments, conveying critical information to the Kohanim who will be responsible for the identification and management of afflictions falling into the category of tzara’at. Included in this review are afflictions affecting persons, garments, and dwellings.

What exactly is Tzara’at…? Is this affliction a natural, physical illness or a supernatural phenomenon? Given the myriad diseases that affect humankind, why does the Torah devote so much text to a description of this specific malady, its diagnosis and treatment?

The Talmud lists, in the name of Rabbi Yonatan, seven sins that cause the affliction of tzara’at: evil or damaging speech, murder, perjury, sexual immorality, arrogance, robbery and miserliness. (Rabbi Goldin citing Talmud Bavli Arachin 16a)

In a similar… fashion the Midrash cites six phenomena, drawn from the book of Mishlei (Rabbi Goldin citing Mishlei 6:16-19), that trigger the illness; haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that spill innocent blood, a heart that ponders thoughts of violence, feet always ready to run for an evil purpose, false testimony (that results in the spreading of lies and the sowing of discord between brothers. (Rabbi Goldin citing Midrash Rabbah on Sefer Vayikra, Perek 16, posuk 1)

The Rabbis find support for the link between… sins of speech and the affliction of tzara’at in a series of clues including:

1/ The term Metzora itself can be broken down and linguistically connected to the expression “motzi shem ra” (slander). (Rabbi Goldin citing Talmud Bavli, Arachin 15b: Rabbeinu Bachya, Introduction to Parshat Metzora; Da’at Zekeinim MiBa’alei HaTosafot, Rabbeinu Bachya and numerous other commentaries on Sefer Vayikra, Perek 14, posuk 1)

2/ Moshe is temporarily stricken with Tzara’at at the Burning Bush when he casts aspersions on the B’nei Yisrael by doubting their willingness to respond to Hashem’s call for the Yetziyot Mitzrayim [the liberation of the B’nei Yisrael from Egypt]. (Rabbi Goldin citing Sefer Shemot, Perek 4, posuk 6: Rashi, ibid)

3/ Miriam is punished with Tzara’at when she maligns her brother, Moshe. (Rabbi Goldin citing Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 12, posuk 9)

4/ The practical response to Tzara’at (seclusion from the community) results in a punishment that fits the crime. The Metzora must distance himself through isolation from society because his words created distance between husband and wife, between man and a friend. (Rabbi Goldin citing Talmud Bavli, Arachin 16b)

A much deeper philosophical current… courses through the Rabbinic assertion of a connection between the sins of speech and affliction of tzara’at. To the minds of the Rabbis, few crimes are as damaging to both victim and perpetrator as the crimes of slander and damaging speech.

A brilliant insight… is offered by Rabbi Yitzchak Arama… While man’s intellect sets him apart from the beast, this scholar notes, his intellect is only fully revealed and actualized through verbal communication. Speech is the G-d-given tool through which an individual’s heart and mind are reflected to the outside world.

Because speech is so reflective of man’s unique character, the obligations associated with verbal communication carry great significance. An individual who misuses his power of speech degrades himself through the very skill meant to mirror his greatness. So foundational is this transgression, that the perpetrator can no longer lay claim to the majestic title of “a speaking spirit.” Improper speech, says Arama, can be compared to “using royal garments to clean a trash heap.” (Rabbi Goldin citing Akeidat Yitzchak, Sefer Vayikra, Sha’ar 62)

Much of literature concerning these transgressions focuses on the obvious victim, the target of the verbal attack. The damage potentially caused to others by an individual’s unthinking and deliberately cruel speech cannot be overstated. Arama, however, together with other scholars, directs our attention towards another victim of these grievous transgressions: the perpetrator himself….

Far from the “speaking spirit” that Hashem created him to be, he reveals himself as a mean-spirited creature, oblivious to — or even relishing — the pain his words cause to others.

Hashem, therefore specifically punishes sins committed through speech with the plague of Tzara’at, an affliction that mirrors what the perpetrator has done to himself.

So it may seem appropriate to ask, what is the case when one man’s mean-spirited speech not only affects a single victim, but affects the security and sovereignty of an entire populous? By this question, this author refers to the apparent arrogance and mean-spiritedness of high ranking generals who threatened and intimidated their subordinates regarding the front line warnings of the impending massive terroristic, barbarous invasion of Israel of 7 October, Simchat Torah.

We lack our Beit HaMikdash, Kohen Godol and Kohanim in service, and our korbonot for millennia, and thus there is no affliction of Tzara’at. Rabbi Goldin writes (ibid, page 107-109) :

Are we to view the misfortunes that confront us, from illness to accident, as Heaven-sent retribution for our sins? Does Hashem punish us today, as He did in biblical times, through the direct visitation of calamity?

On the one hand, the Torah repeatedly speaks of the calamities destined to befall the Jews’ nation as a result of their transgressions… On the other hand, the relationship between affliction and sin in our experience is deeply elusive.

The fate of the cities of Sodom and Amora is firmly rooted in the realm of din, justice. The Akeida, on the other hand, takes place in the realm of nissayon, trial.

Through prophetic vision, Avraham was able to distinguish between the two realms of din and nissayon and react to each appropriately. We, however, are unable to make that distinction. We have no way of knowing, nor are we meant to know, whether a particular life challenge is a punishment or a trial, or a combination thereof. We, therefore act on both levels at once. In times of crisis, we struggle, pray, plead and argue for justice. We allow difficult experience to catalyze our personal repentance and spiritual growth. When all of our prayers are exhausted, we turn to Hashem and accept His unfathomable will.

May it be that our Chayalim emerge totally victorious — eradicating Hamas, their terrorist buddies and the so-called “innocent civilians” of Gaza who joined with Hamas in their murderous deeds, and that the Chayalim return home whole — physically, mentally and spiritually and that the Chayalim Liberate and bring home all remaining hostages. And may we see the restoration of true unity within Am Yisrael.

May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently re-settled in Gush Katif, once the IDF, by the Yad Hashem, destructs and eradicates the wild beasts of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, all other terror entities, and if necessary Iran, and that our brethren be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them, that the thrice expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes and the oft-destroyed Yeshiva buildings in Homesh be rebuilt, as well as the buildings of Yishuv Elchanan, all at total government expense. May our Chayalim return from battle unharmed — physically, mentally and spiritually and may all of the hostages brutally taken by the wild beasts of Hamas be liberated and returned to their families. Baruch Hashem that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard is now in his fourth year at home in Eretz Yisrael and continues in a new chapter in his life. May Esther Yocheved bat Yechiel Avraham have an aliyah in Shemayim and may her spirit and memory continue to lift Jonathan to at least 120 years. May the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem — as with the return in April, 2019, via Russia, of the remains of Zachariah Baumel, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of nine years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and prevent Chas V’Challila the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we see, in 5784, the REAL Jews from the Ukraine and Russia as well as the US and Canada, the real Jews via matrilineal descent, make Aliyah enmass — via thorough review by Misrad HaPanim. And may we soon and finally see the total end to the Communist Chinese Wuhan Lab corona virus pandemic and all like viruses and variants. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nei Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Chodesh Tov and Good Shabbos!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.