(Leviticus 12:1-15:33) /

(Rosh Chodesh: Haftara: Isaiah 66:1-24)

(Sfirat Haomer)

(Pirkay Avot: Chapter 2)

1. [Vayikra 14:4] Our tradition tells us that “tzara’at” is  a disease that comes to a person for saying lashon hara—negative, unconstuctive things about another person. When the metzorah (leper) comes to purify himself or herself after being healed from the disease, he or she must bring 2 pure birds. One is slaughtered. The other bird and some other things are dipped into the blood of the first bird, and then this blood is sprinkled on the metzorah 7 times. He or she is then pure, and the living bird is freed into an open field. What might this symbolize?

2. [Haftara: Isaiah 66:1] God said, “The heaven is my throne and the earth is my footstool.” Why is this a good image for God’s relationship to our world?

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 Rivkah Rochel bat Ya’akov haLevi and Chaya Kornberg, and Yechiel Eliezer ben Yitzchok Meir and Rochel Laya Kornberg

And this study page is also dedicated to the memory of Gad Eliahu ben David and Kochava–Eli Zucker