of the Weekly Reading
To be read on Shabbat Tazriya, 27 Adar II 5774/March
Torah: Leviticus 12:1-13:59; Maftir Ex.
12:1-20 (HaChodesh), Haftorah: Ezekiel 12:1-20 (HaChodesh)
Tazriya 4th Reading out of 10 in Leviticus
and 27th overall, 48th out of 54 in
Tazriya opens with childbirth laws, followed by
a long discussion of the distinguishing signs of tzara’at* on
skin, hair, and garments.
*tzara’at is a discoloration appearing on
skin, hair, garments, and houses, and is sometimes (inaccurately)
translated as 'leprosy'
Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent
(for a free weekly email subscription, click
This week's and next week's portions both speak primarily
about tzara'at, a discoloration appearing on skin, hair,
garments, and houses (sometimes inaccurately translated as leprosy).
Indeed, most years these two readings are combined. Tzara'at
was a physical affliction which often was caused by inappropriate
speech. While this manifestation does not exist today, we can still
learn from the Torah's description of it.
In the laws of tzara'at is an amazing detail: if some of
a person's skin is afflicted with one of the many blemishes that
the Torah describes, the individual becomes spiritually impure.
However, if the affliction covers his or her entire body, they are
deemed pure! "If it all turned white, it is pure" (Lev.
13:9). This does not make sense. More of a bad thing should make
a situation worse, not good!?
It is written in the Talmud concerning the imminent redemption,
"In the generation when the son of David (Mashiach)
will come...the entire kingdom will convert to heresy and there
will be no rebuke..." (Sanhedrin 97a). This means that when
the world will be ruled not partially but totally by a belief that
denies G-d and his providence, this is an indication that the redemption
is imminent. The proof cited is the above law of tzara'at!
Isolated blemishes of tzara'at are a sign of spiritual failing
and are a consequence of our sins, yet when it covers the person
totally - "when it all turns white - it is pure!"
Let's ask again from this new angle. How is it possible that such
a low spiritual perception - when evil has the upper hand - is indicative
of the Redemption?
Either it is divine will, regardless of our logic and reality,
or, specifically when the world will be at a very low ebb, G-d will
come with His infinite power and bring the redemption, as the verse
says, "For Myself I will do it" (Isaiah 48:11).
These explanations apply to our lives. When evil will spread over
the entire world, immersing us in its influence, this will not be
just an extreme situation. If this were so, we would find some remnants
of good somewhere, struggling for survival.
The fact that everything is crazy tells us that all of the forces
of evil are emerging, making their very last stand, because they
know their end is near. This is the final purification of the world,
as the verse says, "The many will be purified and whitened
and cleansed" (Daniel 12:10). Evil will separate from good
and show itself. The inner reality will have become ready to accept
the light of the Redemption and automatically reject evil from its
midst. Then will be fulfilled the prophecy, "All of the nations
will call out the name of G-d with a clear voice and serve Him united"
Shabbat Shalom, Shaul
(for a free weekly email subscription,
For last year's essay by Rabbi Leiter on this week's Reading,
see the archive.
week's story from Yerachmiel Tilles, managing editor of ascentofsafed.com
the Kabbalah Commentaries on the Chumash ("5
Books of Moses")
century - "RambaN"
- Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman
century - "Bachya"
- Rabbi Bachya ben Asher
century - "Alsheich"
- Rabbi Moshe Alshech of Tsfat
century - "Shelah"
- Rabbi Yeshaiya Horowitz
century - "Ohr HaChayim"
- Rabbi Chaim Ben Attar
a sample for this week:
"And it will be when a man shall have on the skin
of his flesh a swelling, a scab, or bright spot, and it
be on the skin of his flesh the plague of tzara'at; then
he shall be brought to Aharon the priest, or to one of his
sons the priests" [13:2]
Why are the words 'and it will be on the skin of his flesh'
necessary in verse 2, when we have heard the same thing
i.e. 'when there will be on the skin of his flesh etc.'
in the first half of the same sentence?
How does the rule of our sages (Megillah 10) that the expression
ve-hayah, and it will be, denotes something positive,
joyful, apply here? Surely, suffering from such a social
disease is not joyful?
When a human being, adam, is of the caliber that
a sin is something exceptional to him, something not really
part of his character, then such a sin creates a visible
affliction, becomes noticeable because it is so alien to
the rest of his body. When a person however, commits sins
as a matter of routine, his whole skin is such that an affliction
would be usual and therefore hardly noticeable, since it
is essentially only a new variation of an existing condition.
The tzara'at phenomenon, applied in times when the
average Jew qualified for the term adam, and was
of high moral stature. Such a Jew could be called to order
through the incidence of a skin disease which would remind
him that he had been guilty of some misdemeanor. Any Jew,
however, who denies the concept of impurity, where it originates,
what causes it etc. is certainly not on the level where
such affliction would have a moral effect on him. The expression
'and it will become an affliction on the skin of his flesh',
then is the supreme compliment that the Torah can pay a
person. It is gratifying for a person afflicted with this
tzara'at to know that G'd has put him in the class
of human beings who are sensitive to any physical disorder
being a product of their own shortcomings.
Torat Moshe - the 16th commentary of Rabbi Moshe Alshech,
the "Preacher of Zefat" on the Torah, as translated
and condensed in the English version of Eliyahu Munk)
For the rest of "The Masters of Kabbala and Chumash"
on this Weekly Reading;
and on all the other Readings.
THE SAGES OF TSFAT AND GALILEE ON KabbalaOnline.org
for an overview of the recommended articles in the columns:
Holy Zohar, Holy Ari, Mystic Classics, Chasidic Masters, Contemporary
Kabbalists, and more,
click to Shemini
of the Messianic Era
From the Ohr HaChaim commentary by Rabbi Chaim (ben Moshe) ibn Attar
Due to the inadequacy of the Jewish people at the time of the Exodus,
it is described as G-d's wrenching one people from the midst of
the same people. It was thus difficult to justify and did not endure,
ending in the Temple's destruction. This is not true of the redemption
of the Future which will occur as a direct result of Israel's merits
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