Illuminations #157, Iyar 5778, Parshat Tazria-Metzora

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Illuminations #157, Iyar 5778, Parshat Tazria-Metzora

Torah Gems

It is an accepted practice among Chazal and the interpreters of the Torah to derive meaning from portions of the Torah that happen to be found next to each other. These commentaries on the Torah do not think that the connection between the portions is arbitrary, but rather they find a similarity between the passages and learn one from the other. This is called Dorshim Semuchot, learning from the juxtaposition of the passages.

Why does the Parashah of Tazriah follow on the heels of the Parashah SheminiChazal explain that there is a substantial reason for the closeness of these portions. Shemini ends with the laws of Kashrut and tells us that its purpose is to distinguish between the Tameh and the Tahor, between the spiritual contaminated and the pure.

Tazriah starts with the Mitzvah of Brit Milah, circumcision. This is also to create a distinction. Here the distinction is between a Jew and a non-Jew. The Brit Milah sets us aside from all other nations. (Of course, many have copied our practice of circumcision as they have other Mitzvot that are primarily for the Jewish people.) Similarly, Kashrut also sets us aside from others and distinguishes us from other nations.

What is important for us is to recognize that the Jewish people are not like all others. We are different. We have a Torah and must live by it. Perhaps that is why the world despises us, because they do not like people to be different. That is why there is racial discrimination. In our case it is not racial but the way we live.

Parsha Pearls

The Portion of Metzora relates to a person who is afflicted with a particular rash the Torah calls a Nega. In our time we are not aware of what this affliction is. Chazal, however, tell us that it comes as a punishment for speaking לשון הרע, slander.

The story is told about Rabban Gamliel that he once sent his Shamash to the market to bring him that which is the best thing. He brought him a tongue. He sent him again to bring the worst thing. Again he brought a tongue. He asked him is it possible that the tongue is both the best and the worst thing? “Yes”, he answered, “there is nothing better than a tongue that speaks honestly and nothing worse than a tongue that speaks slander and gossip”.

Today we do not have the disease of the Metzora but the wrong of speaking לשון הרע, slander, is still with us. The Chafetz Chaim, the author of the “Mishna Brurah,” wrote an entire book on the subject to direct us on how we must act in speaking about others and in treating them in order to avoid slander. לשון הרע slander is considered one of the most serious wrongdoings of which we can be guilty and one of the most difficult transgressions to avoid.

Glimpses of Greatness

The Chofetz Chaim, after the First World War, stopped blessing couples who did not have children. One Jew who had not had children for many years begged repeatedly to bless him for children. The Chafetz Chaim told him: “Hannah begged Hashem to give her a son, and she promised that if Hashem gave her a son, she would devote him only to Torah and holiness. Are you ready for such a promise that you will give your son to Hashem for the rest of his life?” The Jew agreed. The Chofetz Chaim asked again nicely: “Are you aware of your promise? It is the acceptance of responsibility on your part that this son will always sit at the Torah and serve Hashem!” The Jew responded: “ I promise to raise my son to Torah and to serve Hashem always.” After the Jew gave his promise, he blessed him to have a sonDuring the year the miracle took place and they had a son, who was perfect and very successful in all his affairs. The Jew fulfilled his promise, and for the rest of his life the son was devoted to Hashem and became one of the greatest Rabbi’s.

Halacha Weekly

Q. Is it permitted to say one blessing on more than one mitzvah? [I-2-3-14]

A. In Berachot (49a) there is a difference of opinion how one should conclude the blessing “Boneh Yerushalyim” (Builder of Jerusalem) in the blessing after meals, whether we should say “Boneh Yerushalayim,” or instead say one blessing on two things- “Boneh Yerushalyim” and “Moshiah Yisrael” (Savior of Israel). R, Yosef ben Yehudah holds we say both. The gemarah concludes with R. Chisda who brings the opinion of Rabbi saying  one does not say a concluding blessing on two separate things. Meaning we do not say the blessing “Boneh Yerushalyim” (Who rebuilds Jerusalem) and “MoshiahYisrael” (Savior of Israel) in the same blessing. [We say one blessing on one thing only, namely “Boneh Yerushalyim”]. Why? Because we do not perform mitzvot in bundles (Chavilot Chavilot).

However, Rashba (Sheiltot HaRashba 1-451, R. Shlmo Ben Aderet Z”L) writes that in the case of any mitzvah one can make one blessing on more than one mitzvah action.  Therefore, one is able to say the blessing in which one blesses a chatan (groom- at a wedding) on two Chatanim (two grooms) in one house.  Similarly, a mohel (ritual circumciser) is able to make one blessing on two babies (if he is circumcising them at the same time).  See Igros Moshe (Orech Chaim 1-189, R, Moshe Feinstein, Z”L) who writes likewise.


In loving memory of

יעל בת נפתלי ע”ה

Henrietta Rothstein

By Jacques and Amy Elfersy