Parshas Tazria - Metzorah & Yom Hatazmaut
Battling the Serpent
This week’s Parsha describes the affliction of Tzaraas – leprosy. We are
told that Tzaraas was an external manifestation of G-d’s displeasure with
someone for speaking Lashon Harah. In the realm of divine justice there is
a fundamental principle termed “measure for a measure”; meaning, the
punishment fits the crime. Does Tzaraas as the consequence for slander fit
the principle of measure for a measure?
Slander is an insidious, cowardly, and craven way to harm someone else.
Hiding behind a veil of self-righteousness, concern, and friendship the
perpetrator launches his or her sneak attack. The attack leaves no visible
damage on the body of the victim and the intended victim usually never
knows where the attack came from. Almost always the damage to the victim
includes some degree of social ostracization and humiliation.
(Note that this was the exact crime of the Nachash - Serpent in
response to the crime of Lashon Harah, G-d designed the perfect
punishment. The criminal would be afflicted externally with a Tzaraas
blemish. The blemish could not be hidden and had to be shown to a Kohain
(priest). If the Kohain determined the blemish to be Tzaraas the
individual was forced to leave the community and was temporarily branded
as a Metzora - a leper.
Although unspoken, we can assume that everyone was thinking that the
reason for the Leper’s affliction was his or her having spoken Lashon
Hara. In essence the Metzora / speaker of slander was subject to the
same “punishment” as the victims of his slander.
Although there are many more recent examples, I will share with you an
epiphany I had two years ago following one of the murderous terrorists
bombings at the Machaneh Yehudah market in Yerushalayim mid April, 2002.
As I drove carpool that Friday listening to the news, I was saddened by
the all too familiar details of another inhuman suicide attack. Once again
the market at Machaneh Yehudah had been targeted for death and destruction
as families hurried to prepare for Shabbos. In one explosive ignoble flash
families and lives were forever changed and another infamous moment was
engraved in the annals and hearts of our people.
Along with the sadness came disgust at the media’s reporting of the
incident at the attempt to somehow rationalize and balance the horror. I
was disgusted because the report was followed by an “on the scene report
by our correspondent stationed right outside Jennin.” (At the time the IDF
had undertaken a major incursion into Jennin in the hope of forcing
Arafat’s hand and stemming the flow of terror.) The reporter related that
the residents of Jennin were reporting “untold atrocities” being
perpetrated by IDF soldiers and officers. These included the wanton
torture and execution of civilians and the hurried cover-up burials of
innocent victims by the Israelis.
The station then asked their “on the scene reporter” to respond to the
statement by Arab and PLO spokespersons that this latest incursion into
the “occupied territories” was creating a “whole new generation of would
be suicide bombers.” The reporter responded in an emotionally charged
voice, (as I recollect) “What else do you think? Of course! The recent
attacks and massacres of Palestinians have engendered hatred among
thousands of youth who until now had not been touched by the occupation?”
The reporter must have realized how nonsensical the contrast and how
unbalanced the response. She then added that the Israeli’s were claiming
that no atrocities have been perpetrated and that the only people
intentionally killed were PLO gunmen who died in gun battles while
attacking Israeli soldiers. Of course, the PLO called for international
observers to oversee the removal and burial of the dead - but Israel
refused. The reporter concluded, “Why would Israel refuse if there was
nothing to cover-up?”
As a seeming afterthought, the reporter stated that Israel had always
engaged in the collection and burial of enemy gunmen after which, whenever
possible, the bodies were returned to their towns and families. (Of
course, the reporter failed to mention that in contrast to the IDF’s
caring for the dead and dying the Palestinians engage in constant
mutilation and desecration of the Israeli dead.)
My disgust was overwhelming. Israel had embarked on a courageous and
dangerous mission. As part of that mission their soldiers were placed in
mortal danger to minimize Arab civilian casualties. The battle in Jennin
as is the case in all populated areas was being fought house-to-house and
hand-to-hand. The IDF’s casualties were mounting so that the enemies would
not. Israel did not “blanket bomb” the Palestinians hoping to destroy
enemy strongholds and protect the ground troops. Israel did not engage in
that luxury even though they had the firepower to do so. Israel did not do
so although every other nation and government would have done so,
including our own.
We even heard that when Israeli soldiers were rotated from battle and
given leave to return home, they emptied their backpacks and pockets of
all rations and Shekels and gave them to the civilian Palestinians.
One of the reporters at the time stated that ambulances were having a
difficult time getting to the wounded, dying, and dead, because soldiers
were searching them for hidden explosives and terrorists. The reporter
stated that holding back an ambulance is against the Geneva Convention;
however, it was understandable given the fact that explosive had been
discovered in the ambulances. She then added, “And it’s not only the Red
Crescent ambulance being restricted. Red Mogen David ambulances are also
attempting to reach Arab wounded and are also being restricted by the
unfortunate events. “
How many of you heard that Red Mogen David ambulances had attempted
reaching the Palestinian wounded and dying? How many of you heard that our
soldiers gave away their remaining rations and Shekels to the unfortunate
victims of Arafat’s cowardice and inhumanity? How recently have you heard
repeated that upon hearing the news of 9-11 the Palestinians danced in the
streets? How often was that fact reported since 9-11? How recently have
you heard repeated that during the Gulf War Arafat and the Palestinians
openly sided with Sadam Hussein?
Dear Friends, beware of the media serpent. World media uses words to
confuse and complicate the unalterable truths of reality. Their intentions
are insidious and cowardly. They refuse to confront history, and they
ignore facts. Instead, they hide behind the veil of their own bias and
assumed morality. Their words are destructive and their words can and do
Israel is fighting a righteous war. Israel is behaving in a self-
sacrificing manner that is beyond heroic and is beloved to G-d. Their
conduct is a sanctification of His name to highest degree. Do not despair
and do not give in! Be proud and stand tall!
Likewise, regarding our President and our troops in Iran. Do not allow a
destructively biased media or political process to confuse the truth with
select facts. To see the greater picture is to be like G-d and at this
time we must all try to be G-d-like. All facts must be considered
regardless of initial reasons and information. A margin of error exists in
every human plan that demands of the decision makers to be flexible and
ready to do whatever is necessary to accomplish the goal. Whether it is
building a new home, planning a vacation, writing an essay, or planning a
menu, we rightfully make allowances for the vagrancies of time
circumstance, and mortality. To do any less is unrealistic and foolish.
Yet, in waging this new world-war of good against terror, the many self-
proclaimed seekers of truth make zero allowances for error.
It is amazing the travesties we engage in and sanction under the all
allowing blanket of democracy. As much as truth needs criticism truth must
also ignore self-hatred disguised as criticism. Our President has returned
nobility and purpose to his office and we stand taller and prouder because
of it. I personally hope that he stays the course of his decision for he
too sanctifies G-d’s name as do the men and women of our armed forces.
They deserve much better than a media’s betrayal perpetrated under the
guise of freedom of speech.
Do not be silent! Anyone you can speak to, write to, fax to, or e-mail
must be contacted. It is our right and privilege to live in a country that
provides the freedom for us to verbally defend our people. That right and
freedom must be used in defense of Israel and America! Do not be lazy! To
not be indifferent! Let the President know and let Israel know that there
is truth in strength as there is strength in truth.
As a community we have strength in numbers and we have the power to affect
change. Share your ideas with others. Do not be shy or modest when you
fight on behalf of goodness and truth. It is an even greater Mitzvah to
motivate others to be involved than being involved yourself! When your
friends see your enthusiastic involvement, leadership and persistence they
will be moved! It will make a difference! There is a time and a place for
modesty; this is not one of those times.
By the way I am not talking about personal honor. Everyone who has ever
worked for the greater good and benefit of the community knows that there
is always more frustration than honor in communal work. If it is honor you
seek, trust me that the time and effort is not worth the 15 seconds.
Do not delay! Every day the situation is getting worse and we must
respond! If we do not respond now we fail ourselves and we fail our
Everyone must get involved! It is not enough to be momentarily encouraged
to take action. Those moments wear off all too quickly and pass on into
nothingness. Motivation and intention can only be sustained by concerted
effort and sacrifice.
Ignore the media and spread the truth. The blemish of media Lashon Harah
has hurt Israel and America; however, we do not trust the media or depend
upon them. We only trust and depend upon G-d! There is a much bigger
picture out there that many fear. The way to combat the fear is to stand
for truth and oppose the Loshon Harah.
1st Aliya: The laws of purity and impurity as they pertain to child-birth
are discussed. The basic laws of Tzaraat involving the diagnosis of the
Kohain and possible quarantine, as well as the laws of Tzarrat as it
relates to healthy skin and infection are stated.
2nd & 3rd Aliyot: The laws of Tzaraat as it relates to burns, a bald
patch, dull white spots, and the presence of a blemish on clothing is
4th Aliya: The purification process of the Mitzora involving two Kosher
birds, a piece of cedar, some crimson wool, a hyssop branch, fresh spring
water, s clay bowl, a Kohain, the Mikveh, seven days, a haircut and a
Korban with its Mincha offering is detailed.
5th Aliya: The Korban of a Mitzorah who is poor is discussed.
6th & 7th Aliya: The laws dealing with blemishes that appear on a house
are detailed. Following the laws of Tzaraat, the Torah turns its attention
to various laws dealing with bodily discharges that render the individual
Tameh. Male discharges, seminal discharges, menstruation, and other female
discharges are detailed. Note that the basic laws of Family Purity are
stated in verses 15:19-26.
This week’s Haftorah is from Yishayah Chap. 66 and reflects the fact that
today is also Rosh Chodesh Iyar. Yishayah describes the ultimate downfall
of all our enemies during the war of Gog and Magog. The Navi explains that
this world is the manifestation of g-d’s presence and glory. Yet, we are
incapable and sometimes unwilling to properly recognize G-d’s manifest
presence. Even when the Bais Hamikdash stood the Bnai Yisroel did not
appreciate their opportunity to be close to G-d and serve Him. The Navi
forewarns that insincere expressions of devotion are tantamount to
offering blemished sacrifices and G-d will punish those who lack sincerity
Nevertheless, the institution of the Bais Hamikdash and prayer are our
only means for communication love and devotion. Therefore, those who truly
mourn for the absence of the Bais Hamikdash and the Temple services will
merit rejoicing in her redemption and reconstruction. When the Bais
Hamikdash will be rebuilt the nation will again be able to witness the
Rosh Chodesh offering and service, and fully participate in expressing
Iyar 5, 1948 to 2004
(Reprinted from Rabbi’s Notebook 3:38)
The State of Israel is an event of unparalleled importance. Since the
destruction of the second Bais Hamikdash we have been a nation without a
land. True, we never stopped davening for our return to the land; however,
for 2,000 years G-d did not agree to our tears and prayers. Fifty-six
years ago, G-d deemed us worthy of returning to our home. Maybe because we
had offered 6,000,000 pure and blameless burnt offerings. Maybe because G-
d’s pitcher of tears is nearing full. Maybe because the supplications of
the Avos and Imahos had been joined by a chorus of 6 million more voices
singing His praises and demanding His love. I don’t know why we finally
merited seeing the realization of our Tefilos. However, as Rav Kook Zt’l
writes, “The establishment of the State of Israel allowed the Jewish
people to once again become a nation. In the Golah (exile) we are
individual Jews. However, our purpose is to be a Holy Nation, a light onto
the word. This can not be done when we are scattered all over the world
under the authority of the other nations. It can only be accomplished when
we are together in our Holy Land as a Nation.” (As heard from a shiur by
Rav Shabbtai Rappaport)
Rav Eliyahu Kitov writes, “In the year 5708, on the 5th of Iyar, there
arose men of the seed of Yakov, and they stood upon the soil of the Holy
Land and declared, “This land upon which we dwell and cling to with all
our might belongs to us, to us alone, and to our children afterwards
forever! No sovereignty or rule shall prevail in this land save that of
her sons, the children of Israel, who are reclaiming their stolen
inheritance. Let them all come from the four corners of the earth and
inherit their eternal possession. When you see people of Israel who are
thankful for all the good, but who still pray for G-d’s redemption to be
complete, join them! But if you see people of Israel whose hearts are
divided and who are unable to recognize the goodness that has been
bequeathed them, pray for them to be granted clarity of vision to see G-
d’s salvation, and for yourself to be rescued from the blindness and
ingratitude into which they have fallen. LetPlease Send - Rabbi's
Notebook.ems your mouth be filled with song and praise to G-d for what He
did, for what He does, and for what He will do?”
This Shabbos, it is incumbent upon us to proclaim to ourselves and our
children that we see the miracles of G-d that “are with us daily; evening,
morning, and afternoon.” The problems that beset our beloved State of
Israel, internally and externally, are complex and apparent; however, her
existence is still the single greatest revelation of G-d’s love and
protection since the second Bais Hamikdash. (Possibly since the time of
Often, within the majestic tapestry of history, the true greatness of G-
d’s love for us is lost. We can all either recall or have studied the
great moments of our modern miracle: The establishment of the state; the
breath taking revelation of the Six Day War; the unbelievable rekindling
of a generations desire to do Teshuva and return to the ways of their
ancestors; the fears of that fateful Yom Kippur; the pain and anguish of
our war in Lebanon; the hopes and often disappointments for a seemingly
impossible peace, and our ongoing battle against the horrors of
terrorism. Within such a whirlwind of earth shattering front-page events
we tend to forget the true miracle that is Eretz Yisroel.
Let me share with you the simple joys of reveling in G-d’s revealed
presence in a land whose Kedusha (sanctity) is a real as the smell of
Angel’s freshly baked bread.
To touch and even kiss the stones of the Kotel. To walk the streets of
Yerushalayim and know in the depths of your soul that you have come home.
To stand at the corner of Rechov Strauss and Malchei Yisroel on Erev
Shabbos (Friday) and wonder, “Where did all these Jews come from?” To ride
a bus and see the full spectrum of our people sitting shoulder to
shoulder ? some touching and some doing their very best not to!
How many of us have been to Israel to visit our children who are learning
in Yeshivos and Seminaries in a manner that 35 years ago was considered
extraordinary and unique? Can anyone determine the changes that have
resulted from two generations of Torah study within the shadow of
Yerushalayim’s walls? To have walked through the ruins of Masada, floated
in the Dead Sea, swam in the Kineret, hiked the paths of Ein Gedi,
snorkeled in the Sinai, and traced Avraham and Yitzchak’s steps through
the hills of Judah and Shomron as they made their way to the Akeidah.
However, there is one miracle that is so real and commonplace that it
takes the words of Zechariah to highlight the meaning of redemption and
the revelation of G-d’s love. Throughout Eretz Yisroel, the modern State
of Israel, you can visit parks and playgrounds where young children run
freely, playing, climbing, and scraping their knees. At the same time,
watching over them, or simply enjoying the warmth of the sun or a cool
breeze, the elderly of our people sit on park benches enveloped in the
normalcy of life and living.
“Thus says G-d: Old men and old women shall again dwell in the streets of
Yerushalayim? and the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls
To be alive and to witness the fulfillment of promises and the realization
of prophecy is a gift truly deserving of rejoicing and gladness. May we
all merit to see the coming of Mashiach, and the building of the Bais
Hamkdash, speedily and in our days!
Text Copyright © 2004 by Rabbi Aron Tendler and Torah.org
The author is the Rabbi of Shaarey Zedek Congregation, Valley
Village, CA, and Assistant Principal of YULA.