Parshat Tazria-Metzora – April 17, 2021 – 5 Iyyar 5781

A weekly digest of the Parshat Hashavua

Parshat: Tazria-Metzora

  • 20th Day of the Omer
  • Stone Chumash, p. 608
  • 157 verses
  • Haftorah: Kings II Ch.7/ v.3 – Stone Chumash, p.1172
(actual, not celebrated)

Important Shabbat Times

  • Candle lighting: 7:20pm
  • Vasikin (Sunrise) – 6:28:46am
  • Latest Shma AM: 9:46am
  • Earliest Mincha: 1:36pm
  • Havdalah: 8:18pm
  • Zoom Havdalah 8:45pm

General Intro

Parshat Tazria-Metzora contains several themes.

1) The laws of purification for a mother after giving birth 

2) The laws of ritual tzora’at (ed. note- the term “ tzora’at” is usually translated as”leprosy” when in fact it is something entirely different, and is in no way related to any presently known disease. We will simply use the Hebrew term “Tzora’at”). A person who contracts Tzora’at is tamei; when he heals, he is Tahor.

The Torah regulations of “Tzora’at” only have application to the period of the Temple of Jerusalem. i.e. one who contracted Tzora’at would be prevented from entering the Temple or eating sanctified foods. Today, these rules generally do not apply. These rules are considered the most complex of the entire Torah!

The Laws of Tzora’at fall into several categories: Tzora’at of the skin; Tzora’at of burns and abrasions; Tzora’at of the scalp; Tzoraat of clothing; Tzora’at of houses. The parshiot also describe the purification processes including the sacrifices, appertaining to these maladies.

3) The laws of the Zav

4) The laws of Niddah

NOTE: The Torah does not describe how to cure the various diseases; rather it describes what the cohen must do to declare someone as having Tzora’at and the procedures following his recuperation.

Haftora– The Haftora describes the four lepers who, in the midst of the Aramean siege, discover that the army of Hadad, King of Aram has fled. The prophet Elisha had predicted just the day before, that G-d would provide a miracle and that the oppressive famine which the people were suffering from, would disappear. An official of King Yehoram scoffed at Elisha- would the heavens themselves open and bread rain down from heaven? Elisha told the official the relief will come but you shan’t see it!! The lepers discovered that the encampment had been deserted and their supplies were abandoned. When they reported this to the people, they stampeded out of the city and trampled that same official. The important lesson to be learned is never to lose faith in Hashem.

Mitzvah of the Week

Mitzvah #175 – Immersion in a Mikvah

In our Parsha (Lev. 15/17), the Torah teaches that in order to be purified a person who is Tamei (impure), must immerse his entire body in a Mikveh. The Rabbis have determined that the minimum amount of water that would completely cover the average person is 40 Sa’ah, 151 gallons. Also, they determined that the mikvah must be filled with naturally flowing rain water, which did not come into contact with any kind of utensil.

However, once the minimum amount of rain water is achieved than even water which is invalid (i.e. city water), may be added to the mikva and it will be purified.

All our mikvah’s today are built on this principle. Generally a cistern is filled with rain water drained through a PVC pipe from the roof, Afterwards the main bathing cistern is filled with hot city water. Finally a cork is removed from the first cistern, and mixes with the city water in the second-bathing cistern. The result is that all the water is now purified and people may immerse in the Mikvah. After the use of the Mikvah, usually at night, the cork is replaced and the water in the 2nd bathing cistern is pumped out. (in truth, the system is a bit more complicated than the way I am describing, but this corresponds to the basic idea).

Today, the main function of the Mikveh is the purification of Jewish women. “Taharat Hamishpacha” is the most sacred of all the Mitzvot of the Jewish People, and whoever fulfills this great Mitzvah is rewarded a thousand fold from heaven.

Another important function of the Mikveh is for the conversion of both men and women into the covenant of Judaism. For a male, simple circumcision is not enough, he must also immerse in a Mikvah in order to be considered Jewish.

Another aspect of the Mikvah which has practical application today, is for metal or glass food utensils, which were manufactured by non -Jews, which must first be immersed in a Mikva and “converted” before use. Most Mikvah’s today have special smaller Keilim Mikvahs, for this purpose.

The daily use of the mikvah has been greatly circumscribed as a result of “Corona”. Please do not hesitate to contact the Rabbi for any specific questions you may have.