(Haftara: Machar Chodesh, Shmuel I 20)
(Pirkay Avot: Chapter 1)
Introduction: One becomes tameh (impure) in a number of ways: touching a dead human body, having one’s monthly period for a woman, letting out semen for a man, a woman’s giving birth, etc. Becoming tameh basically means that there are holy activities that one may not do: entering the Temple area, eating the Kohen’s portion and so on.
The skin disease of tzara’at is understood to come about as a result of speaking “lashon hara”—saying something bad about someone without any constructive purpose.
- [12:7] After giving birth and waiting the required number of days, a woman must bring an offering to the Temple. This offering is a kapara—it purifies her. Why should a woman need to be purified if she gave birth?
- The sin of “lashon hara”—saying something bad about someone without any constructive purpose—is said to be equal to the sins of idolatry, murder and forbidden sexual relations. Why is this sin considered so bad?
- [13:3] Any Kohen—even a less educated one—can examine a person and pronounce him or her to be a metzorah and send him or her outside of the settlement. Why is it fitting that any Kohen should be allowed to do this and not only the greatest “experts”?
- [13:46] If a person is declared by the Kohen to have tzara’at, then he or she must “live alone outside of the camp”. Why is this a suitable punishment or cure for this disease?
- [13:12,13] If the tzara’at covers all of a person’s skin and there is no healthy area, then the person is pronounced “pure”. What might be the meaning of this strange rule?
- We don’t have this disease any more. Why not?
[13:12,13] “…everything has turned white, the person is pure”.
If the tzara’at covers all of a person’s skin and there is no healthy area, then the person is pronounced “pure”. R. Yisrael Kagan of Radin (the “Chafetz Chaim’: 1838-1933) explained this in the following way: A person with tzara’at is sent out of the camp alone in order to examine his or her life and stop their negative feelings toward life and other people. Human nature is such that if someone has a clean area on his or her skin, that person will think that there is still righteousness in them and won’t be serious about changing. He or she must be sent away alone in order to think and change. But if someone’s whole body is covered with the disease, then one doesn’t justify oneself. One realizes that one is on a very low moral level. Such a person will change and become a better person without having to leave the camp and live alone.
This study page is dedicated to the memory of Gad Eliahu ben David and Kochava—Eli Zucker
And 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