Parshios Tazria & Metzorah
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"...he shall be brought to Aharon the Kohein, or to one of his sons the
The Torah discusses a person who is afflicted with the
spiritual malady known as "tzora'as". Although it is a spiritual affliction,
tzora'as manifests itself physically, in the form of a skin disease. An
individual suffering from this disease must be brought before a Kohein to be
diagnosed. The Seforno questions why the Kohein is the only person empowered
with the ability to proclaim the affected individual either tamei - impure
or tahor - pure.
In all prior situations in Sefer Vayikra where a Kohein's services were
required, the Torah stated that the service shall be performed by either a
Kohein or the children of Aharon the Kohein. However, concerning
tzora'as, the Torah states that the metzora shall be brought to either
Aharon himself or one of his children. Why does the Torah personalize
Aharon's involvement in this procedure?
Very often the manner in which a person validates his own standing in life
and boosts his self-esteem is by focusing on the failures and shortcomings
of others. The Mishna describes Aharon's nature as an "ohev shalom verodeif
shalom" - one who loves and pursues harmony. Aharon had the ability to
create harmony in relationships where there had previously been enmity.
Only a person who is predisposed to focusing on the positive traits of
others can have this ability. Seeing the positive in others is what allowed
Aharon to present a person's former enemy as an individual worthy of his
It is this quality of Aharon which makes the Kohein worthy of diagnosing
tzora'as. Only a person who searches for the positive in people is qualified
to evaluate their flaws. A person whose predisposition is to search out the
flaws of others, cannot render an objective judgment.
It is precisely for this reason that the Torah emphasizes Aharon personally.
Unlike other services that any Kohein can perform by dint of his ancestral
right, the ability to diagnose a metzora stems from his non-judgmental
nature, to which all Kohanim are predisposed due to Aharon's perfection of
1.See Rabbi S.R. Hirsch for definition of Tzora'as
3.See 1:4,7,8,11 etc.
6.Avos D'Rav Nosson
she shall be impure for a seven-day period, as during the days of her
menstruant infirmity shall she be impure. On the eighth day, (his foreskin)
shall be circumcised" (12:2,3)
Parshas Tazria introduces the laws of impurity related to the
birth of a child. After the birth of a male the mother becomes impure and is
restricted from engaging in marital relations with her husband for seven
days. The Torah compares the defilement associated with childbirth to that
of menstruation. The expression used to describe menstruation is "devosa"
which Rashi defines as a malady or infirmity. Why does the Torah link
these two forms of defilement? Furthermore, why is it necessary to define
menstruation as a malady in the portion discussing childbirth?
Immediately following the verse which discusses the seven day defilement
period of the mother, the Torah states "On the eighth day his foreskin
should be circumcised." The construct of the verses appears to be faulty;
the antecedent in the previous verse is the seven days of the mother,
whereas the "eighth day" is in reference to the child. Why is circumcision
of the child on the eighth day described as an outgrowth of the seven days
of impurity of the mother?
The Talmud teaches that the reason why circumcision is delayed until the
eighth day is to allow for the parents to resume marital relations, for if
circumcision were to be performed earlier, the parents would not be able to
fully share in the joy of the occasion. The Baalei Tosfos teach that the
source for the celebration surrounding the fulfillment of the mitzva of
circumcision is the grand feast that Avraham made for his son Yitzchak.
Why is the fulfillment of the mitzva of circumcision a cause for greater
celebration than the fulfillment of any other mitzva?
The Talmud relates that prior to the sin of Adam and Chava, conception and
childbirth occurred in rapid succession, a phenomenon to which the world
will eventually revert. The entire nine month process culminating with
the birth of a child is the physical manifestation of the defect which
occurred due to Chava's participation in the Original Sin. This process
begins with the menstruation cycle. Therefore, both the defilement which
occurs by menstruation and the defilement which signifies the culmination of
the protracted birth process are inexorably linked.
The Ma'aseh Hashem describes the "garments of skin" which Hashem made for
Adam, based upon a passage in the Talmud, as being the foreskin;. Adam
was born circumcised. Therefore, the foreskin represents the physical
manifestation of sin within man. The reason why circumcision, more than any
other precept, is a cause for celebration is that it represents man's
ability to remove from himself the effects of the Original Sin, to reconnect
with his Creator.
Purity is attained when our closeness to Hashem is once again restored.
Defilement is the state that occurs when there is a separation from Hashem.
It is specifically for this reason that circumcision occurs after the seven
day period of defilement. The ability for the parents to resume relations
subsequent to the mother becoming pure signifies the transcendence from sin
1.12:2 second interpretation.
5.See ibid 30a
6.See Bereishis 3:16 see also Eiruvin 100b
7.See Sanhedrin 38b see Ma'aseh Hashem as to how he explains the k'sones for