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PARSHA METZORA AND TAZRIA -SPIRITUAL CAUSES OF ILLNESS
April 12, 2013, 12:57 pm
Filed under: PARSHA METZORA, PARSHA TAZRIA | Tags: , ,

LEPER

2018

LEPROSY CAUSES BLINDNESS, “Tzaraat” DIDN’T LOOK LIKE THIS, BUT SPIRITUAL BLINDNESS  WILL HELP ONE TO GET IT.

Tazria

בס”ד

Through a spiritual treatment to a physical ailment the Torah in our parsha alludes to the roots of illness and spiritual healing.

Physical well-being is linked to spiritual balance. When a person is out of balance spiritually the flow of God-given life force which sustains all of existence is restricted. This appears as physical illness.

“Tzaraat” is the only specific disease described by the “Chumash” (5 books of Moses). On the skin of the person with “Tzaraat” is sores called a “nega.”, oneg (bliss) and nega (affliction) have the same letters.. We see from this that afflictions come by taking delight in forbidden things or not taking delight in those things that the God commands. As the sages teach in tractate Sotah all curses come only on account of a lack of hap­piness in Divine service.

Spiritual defects expresses themselves as physical illness, as in the case of tzaraat. With more serious illness (spiritual defects) treating the physical symptoms alone will not be enough and the illness can return, God forbid. One needs to treat the root of the problem.

Physical approaches to the treatment of illness are important but consciousness and lifestyle changes are needed for true tikkun (repair) to occur.

One must restore spiritual balance to “remove” the problem.

Know further spiritual imbalance leads to new growth of illness (at some time) God forbid. Unless one works to correct the problem. How much better that will be !

The Shabot after Pasach we read parsha Shimini. This week we read Tazria. What is the reason for this sequence of parsha to be read at this time ?

Pasha Shimini describes the revelation of Hashem on the 8th day, after 7 days of consecration of the mishcon (tabernacle). The festival of Pessach occurs also for 7 days. The festival of succot is also 7 days, and on the 8th day we conclude with a separate festival called Smini Atzerot. In the Gemora Shavuot is called Atzerot. The sages tell us like Smini Atzerot, svavuot is the Atzerot of Passach. The sages also tell us that the days of counting of the omer, are like cholemoad (intermediate days of pessach) in sanctity. Atzerot means to bind things together. On Smini Atzerot the Ramban tells us “ All the emanations are bound together”. This refers to all the spiritual work that we do during the month of Tishri. So too on Shavuaot is a binding of all the spiritual work we peform on Pessach, and the days of counting the omer. Parsha Shimini comes right after passach to remind us of Shavuot which is like Shimini Atzerot. It being a time of binding all emanations. So we should during these intermediate days make the most of our time. So that there will be great revelation on Shavuot. When we receive the Torah anew. Hopefully at a level even higher then when it was given at first, then death and evil shall be no more. Next we must ask, How can this be accomplished ?.

The answer to this question can be found in our parsha. Tazria for the most part deals with laws regarding leprosy (not leprosy as we know it ,but a spiritual disease that looks similar). We know that for the most part this disease was caused by loshon hora . If a person spoke loshon hora they could get leprosy . It was also during this time period during the omer that Rabbi Akiva’s 24,000 students died, because of such a misuse of speech. As his students did not have respect for one another. It was the lashon hora that was the product of baseless hatred that destroyed our bait hamikdash . When we recieved the Torah at Sinai it says that we were so united and unified as a people, we were as one soul. It is this that we must accomplish if we are to accomplish our goal of recieving the Torah at a exulted level that will yield redemption. We see this from the redemption from egypt of פסח Pesach. As פסח means פ (mouth) סח (speaks). And specifically סח is a certain kind of speech, describing the speech of Yitzchak when he went out in the field to meditate. It is this intensity of speech, prayer that brings redemption. We see this in the fact that as we learn in the Zohar that Yitzchak perfected the attribute of Givurah, and the yhv”h of blessing “goa’l yisrael” (who redeems Yisrael) is in the Sefira of Givurah (severity-discipline-force).

Know, that there is no explicit reference in the text of our parsha to the theme of the negative powers of language, nor is there any such reference in the Haftarah. With out the Oral Torah one cannot understand what the Torah is really teaching , much of the time. But we do learn in , in the tractate Arachin, that the word “metzora” as a contraction of the phrase “motzi shem ra,” one who spreads lies about his fellow. The metzora was a the person guilty of malicious (gossip) “lashon hora”, or other abuse of words – deception, profanity or verbal character assassination.  Rabbi Baruch Epstein, author of Torah Temima, points out the usual term for a leper is “tzarua”, not “metzora.” The use of the unusual term hints to us that the source of this illness is evil speech.

 

Rabbi Hershel, the son-in-law of the Chofetz Chaim, was a very pious man who spent his days in the study hall who seldom spoke at all. Many believed that he was even more saintly than the Chofetz Chaim, himself. As  his father-in-law, the Chofetz Chaim spoke all over the place and taught and would talk to people, and even joked, at every opportunity. However. We learn that, the Chofetz Chaim, did not entirely approve of his son-in-law’s avoidance of speech and devotion to almost complete silence about worldly matters. Rather, he insisted that one must use his gifts of speech, and use them widely and frequently, yet wisely and carefully.

Silence, for the Chofetz Chaim, was not the preferred way of life. Speech that carefully avoided gossip, insults, and profanity was the preferred behavior.

Today, there are groups of very well-intentioned individuals who emphasize the evils of lashon hora. Sometimes because of this the fail to stand up against evil and this is not right. Sometimes speaking negatively  is necessary. We must protest evil behavior when we can help by doing so. To stay silent  out of fear of “loshon Hora” in such a case is not Holy.

The illness “Tazria” of the Torah is a most bizzare illness as seen by its description of diagnosis  in the Torah

The Torah identifies the signs of “Taria” (Leprasy) as  appearance of a “Se’eit”,  “sapachat”, or “baheret” (13:2)

The hues of the plague of tzaraat are two that are four [i.e., two categories–se’eit and baheret, each of which has a sapachat, or sub-category). Baheret (“bright”) is a bright white like snow; its sub-category is like the lime of the Sanctuary. Se’eit is like the skin of an egg, its sub-category is like white wool; this is the opinion of Rabbi Meir. The [other] sages say: Se’eit is like white wool, its sub-category is like the skin of an egg.

(Talmud, Negaim 1:1)

And the priest shall see the lesion… if the hair in the lesion has turned white (13:3)

There was once a Kohen who could not earn a living and decided to leave the Land of Israel to seek a livelihood. He said to his wife: Since people come to me to show me their plagues, let me teach you how to diagnose tzaraat. If you see that the hair in the afflicted area has died because its canal has dried, then you will know that the person is afflicted. Because for each and every hair God created its own canal from which to drink; if this canal dries out, the hair dries out.

Said his wife to him: If God created a separate canal for each hair to nourish it, how much more so yourself, who are a human being, and whose children depend on you for nourishment—certainly God will provide for you! And she did not allow him to depart from the Holy Land.

(Midrash Tanchuma)

If the hair in the plague is turned white (13:3)

It was debated in the Academy of Heaven: If the white patch preceded the white hair, it is impure; if the white hair preceded the white patch, it is pure; but what if there is doubt (as to which came first)?

The Holy One, Blessed be He, said: “It is pure.”

The entire Academy of Heaven said: “It is impure.”

Said they: “Who shall decide it for us? Rabbah bar Nachmeini.” For Rabbah bar Nachmeini had declared: “I am singular[ly knowledgeable] in the laws of tzaraat…” They dispatched a messenger [to bring him to heaven]… Said [Rabbah]: “Tahor, tahor (Pure, pure).”

(Talmud, Bava Metzia 86a)

The Talmud in Tractate Sanhedrin 98b describes Moshiach as a metzora,  (leper) signifying that before the messianic age  it will bea time in which evils will have infested the world to  a great degree. Rebbe Shimon tells us is the time of the redemption of speech from exile. In a general sense parsha tazria and metsora both speak of leprosy, and come to remind us that the way of redemption comes from the redemption of our speech from the sitra achra . So than we can offer prayer that will yield total and complete redemption. This is all alluded to in the beginning our parsha which talks about when a woman gives birth. Its taught in Torah Aor and other places that the community of Israel is called the “woman” and God is called the “man,” as it is written: “On that day, you shall call Me ‘husband'” (Hoshea 2:18). All this is an illusion to redemption which is like giving birth. As the sages speak in Gemore Sanhedrin of the birth pains of Mashiach, that precede the the coming of Mashiach. The sages say one by one that they would not want do live in those times, because of the trial that such a time will bring. This being alluded to by the period of uncleanness surrounding birth, which ultimately passes with the women being clean. So may we purify and perfect our powers of speech yielding complete Redemption.

BS”D

Parsha Metzora

Parsha Metzora like parsha Tazria concerns tzara’at (Leprosy). This must be a very important subject as it spans 2 whole parsha in God’s book. Tzoraat is translated often as leprosy. Both appear as skin disease, but there the similarity ends. The later is a medical condition that is curable via various therapeutic procedures. Whereas, tzara’at is a spiritual illness that requires soul purification and elevation. Tzara’at was not a “regular” bodily disease but a supernatural physical manifestation of a spiritual problem, a punishment designed to show a person that he must change his ways. The Ramban writes that “tzara’at” of buildings and clothing is not a natural phenomenon, and it doesn’t happen outside the land of Israel.  The Rambam writes in his commentary on the Mishna that even the halachot of tzara’at of the body have nothing to do with medical illness, 

In the parsha it states, “When you arrive in the land of Canaan that I give you as a possession, and I will give tzara’at upon a house in the land of your possession….”

Concerning leprosy of the skin the Torah states, “A man, when there will be in the skin of his flesh a saheit, or sapochot, or baheret, (three different types of Leprosy)…” (Vayikra 13:2) The Torah seems to be saying that the tzara’at that will appear on houses will be somehow an act of giving by God..

On the Midrash Rabah, Rashi explains that, the tzara’at on houses was beneficial to the Jews who had entered the Land of Canaan. Realizing that they were soon to engage in war against the Israelites, the inhabitants of Canaan hid much of their treasures in an attempt to safeguard them until the war was over. One of the places in which they hid their things was deep inside the walls of their houses. After the Israelites were successful in conquering the land, they searched the land for whatever hidden treasures they could find, but some of what had been placed in the walls of the houses remained undiscovered.

The Torah law of a house that has tzara’at is that after a certain point the house must be demolished. In order to reveal the treasure that was hidden inside the house, God would give tzara’at on the house, forcing the owner to knock down the house, and thereby find the much more valuable treasure.

Some times there is a reason for bad things to happen. So that good things may result though we may not see it in the moment. From this we learn that in order to find the “treasure” we may need to look deeper into things ( ancient walls.) in this case. Many blessing are right before us, but hidden from sight. And remember we learn from our verse that The Torah seems to be saying that the tzara’at on houses, this providence will be somehow an act of giving by God..

The Sages tell us that leprosy is connected to lashon hara (evil speech). We know that Miriam, Moshe’s sister, became the first victim of this disease after she criticized Moshe’s conduct. This shows us that illness of humans is according to the hands of heaven. We see penalties for sin in the Midrash where Rabbi Shmuel ben Nachman teaches that a woman’s life is in danger during childbirth because of her disregarding her time of menstrual separation, separation of challah, and kindling Shabbat lights. Rabbi Levi teaches that a man allows an accuser to bring accusations if he dwells in a dilapidated house, travels alone on the road, or sails alone on the ocean. One should not put oneself in a place of danger, as sin can overcome him. Rabbi Yitzchak further teaches us that when man comes to grief through sin and is liable to death by the hand of Heaven, atonement is made by his ox dying, his poultry being lost, his flask breaking, or by his falling and injuring his little finger. A drop of blood flows from it, and this part of his life is considered as the whole of it. These damages are not chance occurrences but the mercy of the Holy Blessed One. This is further evidenced by the kohanim (priests) in their roles as health inspectors and healers.

But we as said above we can learn from the leprosy of houses that we should not suppose illness or in this case leprosy is a divinely ordained punishment. It may be coming to reveal a treasure. God brings things upon us also to reveal what we would find no other way, to teach us. Remember these visita­tions are brought upon the world by God. These visitations should not be attributed to chance, without a specific design or intent, because if one does the Creator responds to this action proportionately, removing this per­son’s Divine supervision to a degree and increasing such chance occurrences, allowing them to run their course, com­pletely uncontrolled. This only happens if one removes him­self from God’s personal providence.

With God’s Providence the Temple will be built and the Messiah will be