The Torah Portion of Tazria 5774
Rav Chaim of Volozhin says: why does the declaration of impurity and purification from plagues need to be done specifically by the Kohen who will say "You are pure" or "You are impure"? The reason is that generally the habitual speakers of Lashon Hara (evil speech) speak about the chosen ones of the people and about great Rabbis, and the Kohanim are the chosen ones.
Mussar (ethical teachings) for guarding one's tongue:
Rabban Gamliel said to his servant Tavi to bring him the most precious meat and he brought him an animal's tongue. Another time he told him to bring the most simple meat, and he brought him an animal's tongue again. Rabban Gamliel asked him, if a tongue is the most precious meat and also the most simple meat, isn't that a contradiction? He answered him, the tongue is able to be used for the good and also for the opposite, and that is why it is written that "Life and death are in the hand of the tongue".
The Tongue doesn't have bones
It's said that the tongue doesn't have within it bones, so that it is possible to turn it in any direction that one wants, and one needs to be concerned and guard it so that it will go in a good direction.
Parnassah (a livelihood) in Hebrew has the same letters as Peh Resen (reining in the tongue). Someone who want a livelihood should rein in (control) his tongue.
"This shall be the Torah of the Metzora on the day of his purification" (Vayikra 14:2)
It is written in the Chovot Halevavot (the Gate of Submission, chapter 7): Someone who speaks Lashon Hara (evil speech) about his fellowman, all of his Mitzvot (good deeds) go to his fellowman and he receives all of his fellowman's sins. The Chatam Sofer (on the Torah portion of Tetzaveh) writes that if he repents, they (his Mitzvot) return to him. And that is what is meant by "This shall be the Torah of the Metzora on the day of his purification" (Vayikra 14:2), that the Torah that he learned will return to him of the day of his purification, that is to say when he repents.
"This shall be the Torah of the Metzora on the day of his purification, he shall be brought to the Kohen" (Vayikra 14:2)
The Chafetz Chaim wrote books on the topic of Lashon Hara (evil speech), and there is a hint here: one who wants to do Teshuva (repent) for the sin of Lashon Hara, "he shall be brought to the Kohen", he should learn the books of Rabbi Yisrael Meir HaKohen (i.e. the Chafetz Chaim), and he will be healed.
Parshat HaChodesh (The Torah Portion of HaChodesh):
The reason for this reading is to sanctify and declare the month of Nissan, because of the importance of this month, for so it is written in the Torah: "This month will be to you the head of the months; it is the first for you of the months of the year". (Shemot 12:2) It is the head of the months and of the festivals. (Practically speaking, this is not the actual sanctification of the month but rather just an addition of holiness.)
Another reason for the reading of Parshat HaChodesh:
to announce to the people that Passover iscoming soon, so that they should prepare themselves to come up to Jerusalem for the festival. The Mitzvah of coming up to Jerusalem for Passover is more
stringent than for the the other festivals, because of the "Korban Pesach" (Passover offering), which is a positive commandment that has the punishment of Korait (cutting off) if not fulfilled
10 Crowns that were taken by Rosh Chodesh Nissan:
1) The first for the act of creation
2) The first for the princes; the princes began to bring sacrificial offerings
3) The first for the priests (the Cohanim); the priests began to do their service
4) The first for the service; the sacrifices of the community began to be offered
5) The first for the coming down of fire upon the sacrificial altar
6) The first for eating of the holy offerings, according to their statutory laws
7) The first for the indwelling of the Divine Presence
8) The first time for the Cohanim to bless the people of Israel
9) The first time when it became forbidden to offer sacrifices on Bamot, so that they would be offered only in the Mishkan
10) The first of the months of the year
On Rosh Chodesh Nissan, Moshe blessed Israel, May it be His will that the Divine Presence will dwell in the acts of your hands. It is customary from Rosh Chodesh Nissan until the 13th of the month to say each day the Torah verses about one of the princes from the dedication of the sacrificial altar. On the the first day, we begin with "Vayihi Biyom Kalot Moshe"; on the 12th day we complete the Torah portion of Naso; and on the 13th day we say the Torah portion of Baaloticha until "Et Hamenorah". (A Kohen or a Levi should not say the Yehi Ratzon.) (from Mishna Berura, Siman 429)
The Torah Portion of Tazria has 67 verses, 5 positive commandments, and 5 negative commandments. TwoTorah Scrolls are taken out: 1) for the weekly Torah portion.2) for the Torah Portion of "Bo", from "Vyomar Hashem... HaChodesh Hazeh Lachem" until "Tochlu Matzot". The Haftorah is "Kol HaAm HaAretz" (Yechezkel 45).This is Shabbat Mevorchim for Nissan. Rosh Chodesh Nissan is on Yom Shlishi (Tuesday).
The Molad is Lail Sheini, at the hour 3:45, with 9 Chalakim.
We say Borchi Nafshi.
May you all have a light-filled and happy Shabbat.
In Nissan we were redeemed, and in Nissan we are to be redeemed in the future.
L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben R' Chaim ztz"l, Nilkach
L'Bait Olamo Yud Gimmel Tishrei 5772