Tazria-Metzorah

Learning Group—Parshot Tazria-Metzorah

(Leviticus 12:1-15:33)

(Haftara: Kings II, 7:3-20)

(Pirkay Avot: Chapter 2)

1. Our tradition tells us that the skin disease of tzara’at is a result of speaking “lashon hara”—saying something bad about someone without any constructive purpose. The sin of “lashon hara” is said to be equal to the sins of idolatry, murder and forbidden sexual relations. Why is this sin considered so bad?

2. [12:7] “…he makes an atonement for her and she is pure…” After she is pure, she can enter the holy place. The Torah is understood on both a physical and a spiritual level. What does it mean on a psychological-spiritual level that someone who is pure can go into a holy place?

3. [Chapter 2, Mishna 5] Hillel said, “Don’t judge your fellow-man until you arrive at his situation”. Can one ever arrive at the situation of his or her fellow-man? Under what circumstances would one be allowed to judge another person?

4. [2:15] R. Eliezer says, ” Let your fellow’s honour be as dear to you as your own”. What is the difference between this and “Love your fellow-man as you love yourself”?

5. [2:21] R. Tarfon used to say, “You are not obligated to finish the work, but neither are you free to ignore the work.” What is the “work”? Summarize the message of this mishna.

Commentary

[Leviticus 14:2] …and he shall be brought to the Kohen.”

When a person speaks “lashon hara (nasty gossip about another person)”, it shows that the speaker does not know the power of the spoken word. A nasty word can destroy someone’s world, and similarly, a good word can build someone’s world. The speaker of “lashon hara” becomes afflicted with “tzara’at”—a skin disease. A Kohen decides whether one has “tzara’at” or not. Until a Kohen inspects the person and says “impure”, the person does not have tzara’at. During festivals or Chol Hamoed, for example, inspections for tzara’at cannot be carried out, and the diseased person would still be considered pure because the Kohen has not yet SAID that he is impure. In this way the gossiper understands the power of the spoken word, and should come to guard his speech more closely.

–Ohel Ya’akov—Ya’akov ben Ze’ev Kranz ( 1741-1804), the Maggid of Dubno.

This study page is dedicated to the memory of Sarah Bella bat Yitzchak Kummer, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer

 

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