Weekly Reading Insights: 
Tazriah-Metsorah 5764


Overview of the Weekly Reading: Tazriah-Metsorah

To be read on 3 Iyar 5764 (April 24 )

Tazriah is the 4th Reading out of 10 in Leviticus and 27th overall, and 48th out of 54 in overall length.
Metzorah is the 5th Reading out of 10 in Leviticus and 28th overall, and 41th out of 54 in overall length.
Leviticus Leviticus 12:1-15:33 (Tazria-Metzora); Haftorah: II Kings 7:3-20 (about 4 victims of tsora'at)

Pirkei Avot: Chapter Two

Tazria opens with childbirth laws, followed by a long discussion of the distinguishing signs of tzara’at* on skin, hair, and garments.
Metzora discusses the process of purification for a metzora (one having tzara’as), the poor metzora’s offering, tzara’as on houses, and concludes with laws about male and female discharges which cause impurity and means of attaining purification from these
* tzara’at is a discoloration appearing on skin, hair, garments, and houses, and is sometimes (inaccurately) translated as 'leprosy'


From the holy Zohar, teachings of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai

The hair is like a fiber optic that is a hollow tube with very fine light emerging from the end, or mouth, of the hair. In the spiritual realms, these hairs are a result of waves of Mochin Dekatnut, or constricted, self-centered consciousness.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the holy Ari, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of Safed

The ritually impure person typically suffers from some kind of mental association with death, depression, ego, or other condition that is antithetical to the joyful optimism characteristic of healthy spirituality.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the Shelah, Shney Luchot HaBrit by Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz

The message in the verse is that G-d makes purity emerge even out of impurity.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.


"If the appearance of the plague is deeper than the skin of his flesh, it is a plague of leprosy." (13:3)
If the outbreak of the disease is limited to the "flesh," to a person's corporeal nature and the desire to fulfill his physical cravings, the damage is superficial, and there is still hope that he will recover. By contrast, once the illness has penetrated deeper and has already infected a person's thought processes and outlook on the world, it is much more difficult for him to be healed.
(Tiferet Yehonatan)

"This shall be the law of the leper on the day of his cleansing." (14:2)
The reason the future tense is used, "this shall be the law," rather than the present, "this is the law," indicates that the purification process connected to the Biblical plague of leprosy should continue even after the individual has been pronounced clean. The sense of humility and meekness that were required for the person to be cured must be carried over into the everyday life, as our Sages said, "It shall be - perpetually and always."
(Shem MiShmuel)


from the Chabad Master series, produced by Rabbi Yosef Marcus for

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:27-28-64/Tazriah-Metsorah)

In different contexts, the Torah uses four different Hebrew words for the word 'man': enosh, gever, ish and adam. The different words refer to different levels of self actualization. Enosh is the lowest, adam the highest. Adam is used almost always when the Torah mentions the Jewish people. Enosh and gever are generally used to describe lower levels of human expectation and performance.

This week's double portion speaks primarily about 'nega-im'-blemishes on skin, clothing and buildings that often are signs of a spiritual lacking. There are two reasons given for why we do not have such blemishes today. One is that there is no Temple where one would bring an offering after finishing the purifying process. The second reason is that these blemishes were primarily an indication of a extremely subtle spiritual imperfections. Most, if not all, of our generation is unable to correct such spiritual nuances because we are so enmeshed in the gray area between good and bad and cannot completely purify ourselves. Nevertheless, we can still learn from the Torah description, as is described in the following story.

The first Rebbe of Chabad, Rabbi Schneur Zalman, had a private room for Torah study and prayer. Once, he came out of that room to where the chassidim were gathered, and said the following in a state of extreme excitement. 'In the section of the Torah that describes the laws of making an oath, their spiritual importance and the consequences of breaking them, the Torah uses the lower level name ish-"an ish....when he swears an oath". Yet, when the Torah speaks about blemishes, the expression for 'man' is that of the higher level, adam-"Adam, when he has a skin blemish...".

Rebbe Schneur Zalman continued that in the Torah uses the name ish to describe an individual in his relationship to his emotions. The name adam refers to an individual's relationship to his intellect.

The fact that the Torah uses different words when describing oaths and blemishes teaches how we can grow spiritually. Spiritual service begins with oaths because these cause us to make boundaries for ourselves in the physical world. Learning how to say 'no' to a permitted, but extraneous desire, is the beginning of a sincere relationship to G-d. But this is only the beginning.

The name adam is used in connection with blemishes, which are caused by some subtle sin which happens through a lapse in our spiritual consciousness, a failing of our watchfulness. Only by re-asserting our intellectual powers can we correct and cure the blemishes. The Hebrew word for wisdom is chochma. The letters of chochma can be re-arranged to spell the words 'koach mah' (the 'strength of what'), which Kabbalistically connotes the power of "what can not be described"-the strength of the divine. Ultimately, wisdom is G-d's power being invested in us. This is demonstrated by the fact that the word adam has the same numerical value as the word mah. Only the level of adam, which has the divine level of intellect invested in it, can correct the subtle impurities of blemishes.

Controlling our emotions is only the first and more basic step in spiritual growth. Using our intellect to correct and refine our spiritual shortcomings is how we can really begin to approach divinity.
(Above story based on talk from the Rebbe Rayatz in 1939).

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul Leiter

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