Shabbat Shalom! This week we have another double header, we will be reading two parshahs on Shabbat!! Tazria and also Parshat Metzora.
This week’s parshah kick starts relating the laws of human contamination after childbirth. Firstly the pain of nine months pregnancy actually came about after the sin of Chava on the seventh day of creation (Sota 12a). When a woman gives birth to a male child, she is unclean for seven days; if to a female child, for fourteen days (Vayikra 12:1/5).
She is only unclean for seven days if she has a male child as the eighth day is the day of the Brit Mila (Circumcision). The question is, why is a boy circumcised on the eighth day? Answers include, Hashem commanded to wait for the child to possess the strength to endure the operation and so that the baby will be alive for at least one Shabbat, which in turn would elevate the sanctification. In Parshat Lech Lecha, Hashem commanded Avraham to circumcise himself. The Brit Mila is a sign between Hashem and the Jews (Shabbat 132a)
The parshah then relates the laws on ‘Tzarat.’ The Torah definition of this is a ‘divine type of leprosy.’ The Midrash lists 10 sins why an individual could suffer with Tzarat . The sin of ‘Idolatry,’ this includes serving in deed and in mind. The sin of Immorality could be a reason (We learn in Parshat Lech Lecha that Pharaoh suffered from 24 types of Tzarat when he kidnapped Sara), Murder is a cause; causing a desecration of the name of Heaven; Blaspheming the Almighty (We learn in the book of Samuel that Goliath had Tzaras breaking out all over his body as a punishment of desecrating the name of heaven), Robbing the public could cause Tzarat; Taking a vain oath; acting in a capacity that is not permitted (in the book of Kings we learn that King Uzzia suffered from Tzarat for the rest of his life as he brought an offering into Holy of Holies when only the Kohen that is consecrated was permitted to do so (Sota 9b)); Conceit is another cause; an ‘Evil Eye,’ that is acting miserly and begrudgingly could cause Tzarat and the main common cause is the sin of Lashon Hara (Keritot 26a/Berachot 5).
The sages teach us that the sin of Lashon Hara is equal to the three cardinal sins (adultery, idol worship and murder), there are two forms, it could be the form of Lashon Hara (speaking something true about someone when no constructive purpose) and also pure slander. An example of someone who suffered from leprosy due to Lashon Hara was Moshe’s sister Miriam, after she spoke about Moshe (related in Parshat Bahalotacha (Shabbat 97a)).
The second temple was destroyed due to the sin of Lashon Hara, slander and Baseless hatred! Hashem rests his divine presence when there is unity!!
Furthermore, not protesting in a situation where embaressment has been caused is seen as very bad, in fact the Talmud relates over a story between Kamtza and Bar Kamtza, where a man of the name Kamtza humiliated Bar Kumtza in a public banquet and none of the many Rabbi's present at the event protested about such an act, the Talmud states that this was one of the reasons for the destruction of the Second Temple (Gittin 55b/56a). We should not speak Lashon Hara and embaress another person! The Talmud advises us to put our hands in our ears if another individual is speaking Lashon Hara, so we wont be able to hear it (Ketuvot 5)!
Tzarat could have different symptoms; breaking out on the skin, leprosy in a healing wound, leprosy in a burn, leprosy on a beard (Kiddushin 35), leprosy in a bald spot, leprosy in the bald back area of the head and leprosy in the bald front of the head (Zevachim 49a).
The Haftorah for Tazria is from the second book of Kings (KIngs II 4:42/5:19), dealing almost exclusively with the laws of Tzarat, where we read the story of how the prophet Elisha glorified the Almighty’s name by curing the Tzarat of a man named ‘Naaman,’ a foreign general (Nedarim 40a). Elisha proved that life and health are both in the hands of the G-d of Israel. Naaman ended up accepting the seven Noachide Laws upon himself, due to the Kiddush Hashem that Elisha caused.