Thoughts on the Weekly Parshah by HaRav Eliezer Chrysler
Formerly Rav of Mercaz Ahavat Torah, Johannesburg

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Vol. 17   No. 27

This issue is sponsored
by Rabbi and Mrs. Eliezer Chrysler
in honour of the birth of
Bat-Chen Devorah Ravitzky n"y.
May she grow up to
Torah, Chupah and Ma'asim Tovim
and be a credit to all her family.

Parshas Tazri'a-Metzora

Not for the Gentiles
(Part 2)

(Adapted from the K'li Yakar)

Following the explanation of the Akeidah and the Mahari Avuhav, that the Tamei species of animals affects the Souls of those who eat them, rather than their bodies (as we discussed last week), the K'li Yakar suggests that it is because the Neshamah is also called 'Chayah', that the Torah, in the following Pasuk, (11:2) writes "This is the Chayah that you may eat", even though it goes on to talk about Beheimos (and not Chayos).

Furthermore, in support of this explanation, he cites the parable related by the medrash of the doctor who visited two patients suffering from the same serious ailment. Having thoroughly examined the first patient, he prescribed him medication and informed him that he was free to eat whatever he pleased. When, after examining the second patient, besides prescribing medication for him, he also placed him on a strict diet, the patient expressed surprise. He suffered the same ailment as his friend, he pointed out. So if his friend was allowed to eat whatever he pleased, why was he so heavily restricted?

The doctor explained to him that his friend's illness was so far advanced that there was nothing he could do to save his life. That being the case, there was no point in issuing him a restrictive diet. He, on the other hand, had not yet reached that stage. His illness was curable, and, the doctor assured him, he would recover, provided he followed the instructions to the letter.

*

And so it is here. The gentiles, who (declined to accept the Torah and who) are not destined to go to Olam ha'Bo, are permitted to eat anything. And it is specifically Yisrael, who are, that the Torah presents with a strict diet, forbidding them to eat food that will inevitably inject into them the evil character-traits that will in turn, lead them away from the path of Torah, and result in their losing their portion in the World to Come.

Sadly, we can also extrapolate from the Medrash that a Yisrael who fails to 'strictly adhere to the diet', will suffer the same fate as the gentiles, and lose his portion in the World to Come.

*

Why, the author asks, does the Medrash choose to present the above parable here more that by any other of the Taryag Mitzvos? It must be, he explains, because the Ba'al ha'Medrash is faced with the problem of the seemingly superfluous word "Aleihem" that we discussed last week; and his answer concurs precisely with that of the Akeidah and the Mahari Avuhav.

*

Still based on the basic explanation that "Aleihem" comes to preclude gentiles, it seems to me that it goes nicely with the last Mishnah in Makos, where Rebbi Chananyah ben Akashya teaches us that 'Hakadosh-Baruch Hu wanted to merit Yisrael, so He inserted many Mitzvos in the Torah', which, the Bartenura explains, they would have kept anyway - such as Shekatzim and Remasim (which is included in the Parshah in Shemini).

In other words, based on the principle that 'Someone who performs Mitzvos that he has been commanded is greater than someone who volunteers to keep them', G-d granted us the opportunity of accumulating many merits, by labeling many good deeds as commandments.

The gentiles, as the Gemara teaches us in Bava Kama (38a), are not subject to this principle. On the contrary, even when they perform the seven Mitzvos that they have already been commanded, they are only rewarded like someone who has not been commanded.

By the same token, we might well say, the Torah writes "Aleihem", to teach us that, in spite of the tremendous benefits that accrue with Mitzvos such as these, it is only Yisrael who are commanded, but not gentiles, who are denied those benefits.

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Parshas Pearls
(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)

Tazri'a

The Three Partners

"When a woman conceives and gives birth to a boy " (12:2).

Rabeinu Bachye comments that the word the Torah actually uses is "Tazri'a" (sows a seed). And, he adds, it is this word that serves as the source of Chazal's statement that when the woman sows first, the baby will be a boy, whereas when the man sows first, it will be a girl.

It is obvious, R. Bachye points out, that the seed to which the Torah refers is the blood of the woman, and it is in this context that he cites the Gemara in Nidah (31a). The Gemara there explains how there are three partners in the formation of man that his father sows the white molecules, from which the baby's brain, the sinews, the bones, the nails and the white of the eyes are formed; the mother sows the red molecules, from which the baby's skin, flesh, blood, hair and the pupil of the eye are formed. Whereas Hakodosh-Baruch-Hu provides the Ru'ach, the Neshamah, the shape of the baby's face, his sight, his hearing and his speech, the ability to walk, wisdom, understanding and intelligence.

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The Crux of the Creation

"And on the eighth day, he shall circumcise ..." (12:3).

The Torah here, says R. Bachye, follows the same pattern as the Creation. When G-d created the world, He created Adam only after having created all the plants and the animals, and once He did create him, he immediately issued him with a Mitzvas Asei (to eat from all the fruits of the Garden) and a Lo Sa'aseh (not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge) - a clear sign that Adam was the crux of the Creation (the last to be created, but the first in mind, as the Pasuk says in Tehilim (139:5) "Last and first You created Me" - ('the end in deed but the first in thought').

And the Torah follows the same pattern here. In Parshas Shemini it first discusses the laws of the animals (created from the element of earth), the fish ( water) and the birds ( air). (Although the author makes no mention here of the element of fire, he already comments in Parshas Shemini, that the salamander [a kind of lizard] was in fact created from fire.) Finally, at the beginning of Parshas Tazri'a, the Torah discusses 'man', and immediately issues him with the Mitzvah of B'ris Milah, to make it clear that he is the purpose of the Creation.

*

Forty Days

" thirty-three days she shall remain with the blood of her Taharah" (12:4).

The reason for the thirty-three day period of Taharah, R. Bachye explains, is so that, together with the seven days of Tum'ah that precede it, it amounts to a total of forty, which is equivalent to the forty days in which a baby boy is formed.

*

The Korban of a Woman who Gives Birth

"And when her days of Taharah are completed, she shall bring a lamb as an Olah and a young dove as a Chatas to the Kohen and he shall atone for her" (13:5/6).

The word "and he shall atone" implies that she sinned. Notwithstanding Chazal, who ascribe her sin to the oath that she presumably made when, whilst going through the pains of childbirth, a woman swears never to have relations with her husband again (an oath which she promptly forgets and contravenes), the author suggests that her Korban comes to atone, not for own sin, but that of her foremother Chavah. Chavah's sin in causing Adam to eat the forbidden fruit was responsible, not only for bringing on death to the whole of mankind, but also for infusing mankind with desire that subsequently became an intrinsic component of every conception. Because were it not for the sin of the Eitz ha'Da'as, Adam and Chavah would have born children as naturally as a tree gives fruit each year, free of the Midah of desire.

And just as the branch of an infested tree is automatically infested, so too, have Chavah's daughters and granddaughters inherited Chavah's sin, and are obligated to atone for it after each birth, even though they themselves are not personally guilty.

*

Incidentally, according to Chazal's interpretation, R. Bachye points out, the woman's oath is not valid, seeing as a. she declared it when in a state of pain (and not of her own freewill), and b. because she has no more right to deny her husband intimacy than he has to deny her. So the Torah obligates her to bring a Korban to atone for her bad thought.

*

Metzora

Reasons for Tzara'as of the Body

"This shall be the law of the Metzora on the day of his purification " (14:2).

Rabeinu Bachye, citing the Medrash, writes that Nega'im (Tzara'as) comes on account of Lashon ha'Ra, as the Pasuk writes in Koheles (5:5) "Do not allow your mouth to bring guilt on your flesh " - meaning that one should not speak words that will result in one's flesh becoming stricken.

" and do not say to the angel (who is sent to punish you) that it was a mistake! "

Because every word that comes out of your mouth is recorded in a book, whether it is good or bad, whether you spoke it by mistake or on purpose!

"Why should G-d be angered by your voice, and destroy the work of your hands?" - with reference to one's hands and the rest of the body, which are subsequently smitten with Tzara'as.

*

Alternatively, the Pasuk in Koheles is using refined speech, because it is really warning a man not to be intimate with his wife during her period of impurity, since that will cause the child that they subsequently bear to be born with Tzara'as. Neither will it help to tell the angel who is in charge of birth that it was a mistake, for this sin evokes G-d's anger, causing Him to destroy the work of his hands (i.e. his children). See 'Highlights ' (the first Ba'al ha'Turim in Tazri'a).

*

A Reason for Tzara'as of the House

"And the owner of the house shall come " (14:7).

Citing the Gemara in Yuma (11b) Rabeinu Bachye explains that Tzara'as of the house is the result of a person's attitude that his house and all his belongings belong to him exclusively ('What's mine is mine!' [see Pirkei Avos 5:11]).

Consequently, he declines to lend people his household objects and refuses to invite guests into his home.

*

And in the name of the Medrash he explains the Pasuk allegorically - the Owner is Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu, the House is the Beis-Hamikdash and the Kohen, Yirmiyahu ha'Navi (who was indeed a Kohen). And so, says the Medrash 'The owner of the Beis-Hamikdash came, and told Yirmiyah that He saw a sort of plague in the house!' Unfortunately, as we know, Yirmiyah had no choice but to admit that 'the House' was indeed Tamei, and so it had to be destroyed.

*

The Ten Kinds of Tzara'as

"And behold the plague is in the walls of the house" (14:37).

The Torah has now listed ten different kinds of plagues; six on the body of the afflicted person - Se'eis, Sapachas, Baheres (different degrees of white marks on the skin), Sh'chin and Michvah (a plague on the location of a former boil and burn, respectively), Nesek (a plague on the location of a hair that fell out); And four outside his body - three on his clothes: on a garment made of wool, linen or leather; and one on the walls of his house.

(The author lists 'hair that falls out of his head' - which the Torah specifically states is not Tzara'as, but omits 'Michvah', which is. I assume that this is a printing error, and made the necessary correction.)

These ten forms of Tzara'as, says R. Bachye, correspond to the Ten Commandments. If Yisrael keep the Ten Commandments, then they will be spared from the plague of Tzara'as. But if they don't

* * *

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE BA'AL HA'TURIM ...

... PARSHAS TAZRI'A

"Speak to the B'nei Yisrael saying 'A woman who conceives and gives birth " (12:1).

The Ba'al ha'Turim explains the juxtaposition of the Parshah dealing with a baby's birth between that of the animals that one may or may not eat and that of Tzara'as. G-d is hinting to the baby that if he behaves the way he should, then He created on his behalf a host of animals to provide him with tasty meat dishes. Failing that, there is a plague of Tzara'as waiting to strike him.

Moreover, he says, in connection with the juxtaposition of the Parshah of the Tum'ah of birth to Tzara'as, if the parents contravene the Dinim of Tum'as Nidah, the baby will be stricken with Tzara'as. (See also 'Parshah Pearls', Metzora 14:2)

*

"And behold (ve'Hinei) the plague has retained its appearance " (13:5).

The word "ve'Hinei", says the Ba'al ha'Turim, implies that something new happened that was not known before - such as here, where the stricken man has just been in quarantine for seven days before the Kohen sees him again.

And like the Pasuk says when Lavan switched Le'ah for Rachel (Vayeitzei 29:25) "And it was in the morning, and behold it was Le'ah".

*

"And if the Tzara'as blossoms abundantly on the skin (poro'ach tifrach )" 13:10.

This same term appears in Yeshayah (35:2) "poro'ach tifrach ve sogeil (it will blossom abundantly and rejoice)" - When the Tzara'as blossoms abundantly, until it covers him from head to foot, this is a cause for rejoicing, for then the Kohen will declare him Tahor, as the Pasuk goes on to state.

*

PARSHAS METZORA

"Speak to the B'nei Yisrael and say to them, any man who has a discharge (Zav) from his flesh " (15:2).

The Pasuk is saying this to Moshe, to tell Aharon (which is what "Speak to Moshe and Aharon generally means). It does not use this expression with regard to the Parshah of Nega'im (Tzara'as), the Ba'al ha'Turim explains, because as a result of the Eigel ha'Zahav that Aharon made, Yisrael were stricken with Tzara'as. And the reason that the Torah juxtaposes the Parshah of Zav to that of Metzora, he says, is because following the episode with Chavah and the snake, Chavah (and her female descendents) was punished with Zivus, and the snake, with Tzara'as.

*

"And any bed on which the Zav lies (yishkav olov) shall become Tamei, and any vessel (ve'chol ha'k'li) on which he sits will become Tamei" (15:4).

The Ba'al ha'Turim points out how two halochos concerning a Zav are hinted here in the two sets of words in parentheses: "Yishkav olov" = 'Zeh meyuchad li'yeshivah' (only if it is specifically meant for lying on - see Rashi); and "ve'chol ha'k'li" = 'aval lo ho'e'ven' (but not a stone), since stone vessels are not subject to Tum'ah.

*

"Ve'rochatz es kol besoro (And he shall bathe all his flesh [Tovel] in water)" (15:16).

The Gematriyah of "Ve'rochatz es kol besoro", comments the Ba'al ha'Turim, is equivalent to that of 'Ve'lo yehei bo chatzitzah bi'vesoro ve'sa'aro' (and there shall be no interruption on his flesh or in his hair).

* * *

THE MITZVOS AND THEIR MEANING
(Adapted from the Seifer ha'Chinuch)

Please bear in mind that the rulings in this article reflect the opinion of the Seifer ha'Chinuch and are not necessarily Halachah.

Mitzvah 450:
Not to Withhold the Ma'asros of a Levi (cont.)

Alternatively, we might say that it mentions the land to point out that the Levi'im need us, since they are the owners of the inheritance, which in turn, everybody needs. Because anybody who does not own land, even assuming that he possesses a lot of money, is in need of mercy, seeing as everything comes from the land. And there is nothing that a person owns that he can rely on like land. It is the landowners who rear fattened calves and well-fed swans; they are the ones who own large chickens, doves from the dove-cot, kid-goats and lambs. And as is customary with kings and princes, those who work on the land presents them with a cross-section of all these, so too, are Yisrael commanded to present the Levi'im with their dues. It is in this connection that the Torah issues a number of warnings in various locations, when it says " and the Levi who lives within your gates, do not forsake him" (Re'ei 14:27). The term "within your gates" intimates (not that he must go begging for alms, Chalilah, but) simply that he does not own land as a Yisrael does.

The Dinim of the Mitzvah are clearly set out in the Pasuk.

This Mitzvah applies at the time when Yisrael dwell in their land. Anybody who contravenes it, by declining to make the Levi happy and by withholding his Ma'asros from him on Yom-Tov, has transgressed it, though he does not receive Malkos, since it is not connected with an act. Inherent in this Mitzvah , as is plain to see, is the obligation to sustain and to do good to those who spend their time studying Torah, since they are the ones who keep Torah alive and who reinforce Emunah among the people. They increase peace in the world; they love the people, and rejoice over settling the land, and whoever needs grace will see their face with righteousness. And since they do not have the time to go out and earn their livelihood, those who have mercy on them and who seek whatever is to their advantage will earn G-d's mercy and will share in their reward in Olam ha'Ba!

* * *

In the Pesach issue (on page 2), citing the Maharil, we wrote ' one should also remember to pour the remainder of each of the four cups back into the bottle, and then pour it back into the cup, to rectify the P'sul of 'Kos Pagum'. We omitted to add that one first pours a little wine from the bottle into the Kos, and then 'pours the remainder of each of the four cups back into the bottle , before refilling the cup'. Otherwise, one renders the entire bottle 'Pagum'.

We apologize for the error.

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