Weekly Reading Insights: 
Tazriya/Metzora 5766

Overview of the Weekly Reading: Tazriya / Metzora

To be read on 1 Iyar 5766 (April 28-29)

Torah: Leviticus 12:1-15:33;
Haftorah: Isaiah 66 (for Rosh Chodesh)

Pirkei Avot: Chapter 2

Tazriya is the 4th Reading out of 10 in Leviticus and 27th overall, and 48th out of 54 in overall length
Metzora is the 5th Reading out of 10 in Leviticus and 28th overall, and 41th out of 54 in overall length

Tazriya 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’at), the poor metzora’s offering, tzara’at 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

Explaining this verse] Rabbi Aba opened [his discourse with the passage] "Be afraid of the sword; for wrath brings the punishment of the sword, that you may know that there is judgment." (Job 19:29). The word for "judgment" in the verse is spelled with the letter vav but pronounced with the letter yud.

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

Let us [first] note that the word for "my raised-disease" [in Hebrew, "se'eiti"] may be permuted to spell the word for "my wife" ["ishti"]. [This indicates that] if a person merits, [his wife is good to him; if not, she is like a plague to him].

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

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From Rabbi Moshe Alshich

This means that he divests himself of all that is extraneous, non-essential, and therefore apt to lead him astray. At that point no hint of his affliction remains, and the rehabilitation process has been successfully completed.

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


"If a man shall have on the skin of his flesh." (13:2)

The plague of leprosy appeared only "on the skin of his flesh" - on the most external part of a person. Years ago, when G-d afflicted someone with leprosy as a punishment for his deeds, it affected only his most external self, for the inner person was spiritually healthy and not deserving of punishment. Nowadays we have no such phenomenon, as the Biblical leprosy differed from the modern-day disease bearing the same name. In our time, it's not just the external part of ourselves we must work on and purify.

(Sefer Maamarim)


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

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org



"Examine the leper to determine that the leprous mark has healed. The priest shall then order…" [14:3-4]

As soon as G-d sees that the sin which was the cause of the plague (the exile under the dominion of the Gentiles) has been healed, "The priest shall then order…" G-d will issue directives for two birds to be taken, etc. These two birds represent the two Messiahs, the Mashiach ben Yoseph and the Mashiach ben David. The reason the Messiah is called a bird is that this is a description for souls in the higher regions.

The Zohar on Parshat Balak, (Numbers 24:17) quotes another example of the Messiah being called a 'bird': "From this cave there emerges a very great bird which will rule over the world and the kingdom will be handed over to him." All these expressions area euphemisms for celestial forces, as every student of the Kabala is aware of.

We have found that the first Messiah will be from the tribe of Ephraim who will nevertheless die while revealing himself; he will be followed by the Messiah descended from David. When the Torah speaks of G-d taking "two birds which are pure," these words are similies for the two kinds of Messiah.

Ohr HaChaim

[Adapted from Discover Moshiach in the Weekly Torah Portion (by Rabbi Berel Bell and the students of Bais Chaya Mushka Seminary of Montreal), as published on www.mashiach.org]

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:27-2866/Tazriya/Metzora)

This Torah page is dedicated in memory of Devorah Gittel bas Baila, A"H.
May this essay be an elevation for her soul.

In different contexts, the Torah utilizes 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 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 Shneur Zalman, had a private room for Torah study and prayer. Once, he came out of that room to where his disciples 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" - "a man [in Hebrew, 'ish']....when he swears an oath". Yet, when the Torah speaks about blemishes, the expression for "man" is that of the higher level, "adam" - "…a man "["adam"], when he has a skin blemish...".

Rebbe Shneur 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 with 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", meaning "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.

Shabbat Shalom

(Above story based on talk from the Rebbe Rayatz in 1939)

P.S. Please also read my weekly Shabbat Law, below.

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For all our insights for this parsha:

from last year Tazriya, Metzora

from two years ago

from three years ago Tazriya, Metzora

from four years ago

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