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Parshas Tazria-Metzora - Vol.
4, Issue 28
Compiled by Oizer Alport
Ubayom ha’shemini yimol besar orlaso (12:3)
The tremendous joy of the inauguration of the Mishkan was marred by the tragic deaths of Aharon’s two oldest sons, Nadav and Avihu. The Torah relates (10:3) that upon learning of their deaths, Aharon remained silent. On this verse, there is a perplexing Medrash Pliah. From the Torah’s emphasis on Aharon’s silence, the Medrash understands that there was something which he wished to say but didn’t. What complaint was he holding inside? The Medrash answers cryptically that Aharon would have argued “ubayom ha’shemini yimol besar orlaso” – When a woman gives birth to a male child, the baby should be circumcised on the eighth day. What possible connection could this have to the death of Aharon’s sons?
Several commentators explain by noting that the Gemora in Niddah (31b) questions why circumcision is performed on the eighth day and not on the seventh day. The Gemora answers that when a woman has a male child, she becomes impure and forbidden to her husband for seven days. If the circumcision was performed on the seventh day, the guests would be rejoicing while the father and mother, the central figures at the celebration, would still be sad. On the eighth day, the mother has had the opportunity to immerse in a mikvah and become permitted to her husband, allowing them to also enjoy the occasion.
Based on the Gemora’s reasoning, we may explain that Aharon was the primary participant in the joy of the inauguration of the Mishkan, in which he served as Kohen Gadol. After seeing the lengths to which the Torah goes to ensure that the parents are able to be happy at their son’s circumcision, Aharon was bothered that he lost two of his children on the day which was supposed to be so dear to him.
Aharon’s argument would have been bolstered by Rashi’s comment (Shemos 24:10) that Nadav and Avihu should have been killed at Mount Sinai for irreverently indulging in food and drink while gazing at a prophetic revelation of Hashem, but He spared their lives temporarily so as not to mar the joy of the giving of the Torah. Aharon could have easily questioned why he wasn’t entitled to enjoy his day as the “Baal Simcha” like Moshe at Mount Sinai and the parents at a circumcision, but he remained silent and was rewarded for his unquestioning acceptance of Hashem’s just ways!
Adam ki yihyeh b’or besaro se’eis o sapachas o baheres v’haya b’or besaro l’negah tzara’as v’huva el Aharon HaKohen o el echad mibanav (13:2)
Parshas Tazria discusses the laws governing a person who has tzara’as on his skin. The Torah refers to this person as an “adam.” However, this is difficult to understand, as the Zohar HaKadosh teaches that of the many Hebrew words for a person, the word “adam” is used to connote a respected individual. Why is a person who has sinned and brought tzara’as upon himself referred to using an expression that signifies importance?
Rav Nissan Alpert explains that a person isn’t measured by his mistakes. All people are human and are prone to err from time to time. Rather, a person’s worth is determined by whether he learns from his mistakes. A Torah scholar who is content with the level he has reached and has no ambitions to continue improving himself can hardly be considered a great person. On the other hand, a person who works to improve himself so that he doesn’t repeat his sins is certainly to be admired. In our case, although the person was stricken with tzara’as, if he comes to a Kohen to understand what he did wrong and learn how to correct his ways, the Torah teaches us that nobody could be more important and deserving of our respect!
Ki savo’u el Eretz Canaan asher ani nosein lachem l’achuza v’nasati negah tzara’as b’veis eretz achuzaschem (14:34)
Parshas Tazria introduced us to the laws governing the different types of tzara’as which can afflict a person’s body. Parshas Metzora begins by teaching the elaborate procedure which a stricken person must go through to purify himself. Afterward, we are introduced to a new type of tzara’as, one which afflicts a person’s home.
Curiously, Rashi comments that in warning the people about the possibility of tzara’as striking their homes, Hashem was actually conveying good news. Because the previous Canaanite inhabitants hid their treasures in the walls of their houses, the process of scraping a house with tzara’as would reveal to them valuable items. This concept seems difficult to understand. Although discovering the hidden treasures would lessen their pain, why did Hashem choose to give them reward in this peculiar manner?
Rav Moshe Feinstein explains that Hashem metes out reward and punishment in a precise and exact manner. The individual who became rich as a result of his house being stricken with tzara’as obviously had merits which caused Hashem to decree that he should become wealthy. However, he also had sins which caused him to lose his home in the process.
Had he been more righteous, he would have received the windfall in a different manner, one which wouldn’t have caused him any emotional hardship. At the same time, while the destruction of his house will surely cause him pain, the fact that the demolition of his home becomes the very mechanism which brings him unexpected wealth and treasures mitigates his overall suffering, thereby reflecting and demonstrating the precise manner in which Hashem metes out justice.
the weekly Points to Ponder are now available!
Parsha Points to Ponder (and sources which discuss them):
1) Why does giving birth to a child, usually thought of as a beautiful and incomparable act of bringing new life into the world, render the mother ritually impure (12:1-5)? (Amud HaEmes)
2) The Shulchan Aruch rules (Orach Chaim 223:1) that when a woman gives birth to a son (12:2), the parents are obligated to recite the blessing “HaTov V’HaMeitiv.” Is any blessing recited over the birth of a daughter? (Meromei Sadeh Berachos 54a, Aruch HaShulchan 223:1, Mishnah Berurah 223:2, Halichos Shlomo Tefillah pg. 280, Shu”t Shevet HaLevi 9:49, Shu”t Tzitz Eliezer 13:20)
3) The Torah requires (13:45-46) a metzora to dwell outside of the Jewish camp and to call out, “Tamei, tamei!” The Gemora in Moed Katan (5a) explains that this done so that people will pray on his behalf that he should be healed quickly. Why is the metzora required to request other people’s prayers more than any other person who is ill? (Medrash Yehonason Parshas Metzora)
4) Rashi writes (14:35) that even if a Torah scholar knows with certainty that an affliction in his house is a case of tzara’as, in relating this information to the Kohen he may not say that “negah” – an affliction – has appeared in the house, but “k’negah” – something like an affliction – has appeared in the house. If he knows for sure that the affliction is a case of tzara’as, why must he speak in this imprecise manner? (Sifsei Chochomim, Tosefos Yom Tov Nega’im 12:5, Ayeles HaShachar)
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