Illuminations #202, Nissan, 5779, Parshat Tazria

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Illuminations #202, Nissan, 5779, Parshat Tazria

Torah Gems

Instructions are given in this week’s Sidra that on the eighth day after a Jewish boy is born he is to be circumcised. When Hashem created the world He did not finish it completely, but left room for man to improve on it. Even a child that is born by means of one of the greatest miracles in nature has to be perfected through the act of man. This is what is meant when at the end of creation the Torah says – AsherBara Elokim Laasot,” that Hashem created to make. Hashem created the world but left things undone so that man could complete the job.

The Talmud relates that a Roman once asked Rabbi Akiva, “Whose work is more pleasant, Hashem’s or man’s?” He answered, “Man’s.” The Roman then asked, “Why do you circumcise?” Rabbi Akiva answered, “I knew you were going to ask me this question, that is why I answered as I did.” Rabbi Akiva then brought the Roman stalks of wheat and buns. These are the works of Hashem and these are the works of man. Which is better? Aren’t the buns better?”

Hashem created the world but he left much undone so that we can improve on it and have a share in creation. If we do our part we share with Hashem. This is the greatest honor a person can have, to share in creation with Hashem.

Parsha Pearls

The Torah describes the symptoms of a malady which it calls Tzaraat.” Modern medicine cannot accurately identify this sickness. According to the Torah, the Kohen has to examine the signs and determine if it is truly this affliction. Since the Kohen is not a doctor, our sages recognize this is not a normal infection but rather an outward manifestation of a spiritual deficiency.

The Rabbis of the Talmud state that a Kohen is eligible to diagnose everyone’s symptoms except his own. This is a strange restriction since even a doctor may recognize his own symptoms. The Rabbis’ meaning, however, has a broader implication. They recognize that people can readily see faults in others but they cannot see their own faults.

This is why they maintain that the Kohen can diagnose the Tzaraat of others but not his own. Since this ailment is not a usual type of sickness but an indication of a spiritual deficiency, they are not able to judge their own status.

Glimpses of Greatness

There was a married couple who for many years could not have children.They talked to doctors and tried all kinds of treatments without results. Suddenly, they had a first child – how did it happen?

So, one Jew found it difficult to earn a living and could not afford tuition for his daughter, who would study at the seminary. After the management sent a few warnings, the daughter had to leave the seminary and of course it was a disgrace for her and her family. This touched the hearts of the couple who did not have children. They decided to help the girl and pay the tuition. The couple went to the principal and sat down together and calculated the tuition and came to seven thousand dollars. The couple were not rich and it was a huge amount, nevertheless they accepted to pay in installments and asked the manager to keep it a secret. The manager immediately sent a letter to the family that the girl could return to the seminary and the family didn’t understand how it happened. And for the couple that helped the girl, about a year later they had a baby.

Halacha Weekly

Q. Is there a concern of a prohibition involved in burning Chametz with the Aravah of Hoshanot? [II-2-31]

A. We do not perform two mitzvot at the same time, mitzvot chavilot chavilot. For example, we do not say Kiddush twice on the same cup of wine. Pesachim (102b): “One may not say two kedushot on one cup because one does not perform mitzvot in a wholesale fashion (mitzvot chavilot chavilot) [doing more than one mitzvah with the same item].”  However, we have a custom of doing mitzvot again with the same mitzvah item. For example, burning chametz on Erev Pesach with the Aravah, which we used for Hoshanot on Sukkot?

Shulchan Aruch HaRav (445-12, R. Shneur Zalman of LiadiZ”L) explains this minhag of burning chametz with the aravot of the Hoshanot used on Sukkot,  ‘“As one had intention to use it (the aravah)  for one mitzvah (hoshanot), one should use with it another mitzvah of destruction of chametz.”  He does not mention there is any concern with the prohibition of performing multiple mitzvot with the same mitzvah object in this case.  [And, therefore, it appears that the custom does not involve a prohibition of mitzvah chavilot chavilot.]