Rabbi Eisen’s Shabbat Shalom Message

Shabbat Shalom!

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Candlelighting for
Friday, April 20, 2018 • 6:39pm

• Our Portion for the Week

TAZRIA – LEVITICUS 12:1 – 13:59
This portion and the next, deal with laws of ritual purity. Such purity is conceived as a prerequisite for the pursuit of kedusha. Furthermore, because the Mishkan (sanctuary) was located within the camp of the Israelites, great care had to be taken to ensure its purity. The portions deal with specific physical conditions which give rise to impurity. The first is childbirth. The next is a complex of diseases known as tzaraat (translated "leprosy", but clearly not the modern disease). The priests are charged with the task of determining the nature of the ailment when it appears in humans or in fabrics and leather and the method of purification. Since all Israelites were obligated to strive to be kadosh in accordance with God's demand, the matter of maintaining a state of purity was of great significance.

METZORA – Leviticus 14:1 – 15:33
This portion continues the presentation of the laws of ritual purity. In particular, the priests are instructed as to the purification rites for a person determined to be afflicted with Tzara'at as described in the previous portion. Instructions are also given for dealing with tzaraat in building stones (some kind of mold, blight or rot that showed up in the plaster). Finally, procedures are set forth which are required when an Israelite, male or female, experiences discharges from the sexual organs. The Torah here seems to be classifying illness and disease as forms of impurity. Thus, they are placed in the realm of religious concern. All these impurities threatened, directly or indirectly, the purity of the sanctuary, which was located within the area of settlement. Therefore, for all Israelites, maintaining a state of purity was of great importance.

• Our Question for the Week •

  1. The Parasha opens with birth (12:1-5). For how long is the woman who gave birth considered impure? What is she restricted in doing because she is in a state of impurity? How do you think that she might have felt about this? Why? (Note that most people went the Tabernacle only when a specific need arose.)
  2. How does the woman mark the end of this period of impurity (12:6-8)? Why do you think that this kind of mark was chosen?
  3. In chapter 13 we meet the concept of Tzara'at. This is usually translated as leprosy, but it is not the illness by that name in modern times. What can we learn about Tzara'at from 13:1-2? What in the description seems odd for an illness?
  4. The Kohen (priest) is the one who determines if a person has Tzara'at. How does the Kohen determine that the person has Tzara'at? There seems to be no physical contact (touch etc) between the Kohen and the person suspected of having Tzara'at. What seems to be the main diagnostic tool of the Kohen (13:3-8)?
  5. What happens to the person who is diagnosed with Tzara'at (13:45-46)? How do you think that this affects the person? What might it teach us about Tzara'at?