Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tazria - Metzora 5773

The Torah Portion of Tazria/Metzora  


"And who is like your people Israel..." (Divrei HaYamim Aleph 17:21)

It is written by the Sages that the Holy One Blessed Be He puts on Tefillin, and it is written in them "And who is like your people Israel..."  (Divrei HaYamim Aleph 17:21).  If someone speaks Lashon Hara (evil speech), G-d forbid, it is as if he is speaking against the Tefillin of the Holy One Blessed Be He, because Hashem is adorning himself with the praise of Israel, and this person is speaking Lashon Hara against Israel.  (from the Holy Rebbe of Berditchev)

"...he shall be brought to Aharon the Kohen, or to one of his sons the Kohanim." (Vayikra 13:2)

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.

"...He shall stay in isolation; his dwelling shall be outside the camp."   (Vayikra 13:46)

A Metzora, someone who has the plague of Tzaraat, is sent outside of three camps, and also it is forbidden for him to enter in the Land of Israel into a city which has a wall.  The three camps are:  the Azarah --- which is the camp of the Shechina (the Divine Presence), Har HaBayit -- which is the camp of the Levites, and Yerushalayim -- which is the camp of the Israelites.  The Be'er Yosef explains that the Sages say on the verse "what will He give you and what will He add to you, a deceitful tongue?" (Tehillim 120:3), that Hashem gave to the tongue two walls, the lips and the teeth, and in spite of that he speaks Lashon Hara (forbidden speech).  Therefore they say to him (the person with the plague of Tzaraat) because you broke through the walls, it's forbidden for you to enter into a city with a wall. 

"...he shall shave off all his hair -- his head, his beard, his eyebrows..." (Vayikra 14:9)

The Kli Yakar explains that the Metzora shaves off his beard -- because he spoke with his mouth, his eyebrows -- because he had a jealous, stingy eye, and his head -- because he had a conceited spirit.  The law is that he needs to shave off the hair from his entire body, but the Torah mentions specifically these particular places.

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".

Why doesn't the tongue 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.

The connection between a livelihood and guarding one's tongue:

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.

The Torah Portion of Tazria has 67 verses, 5 positive commandments, and 5 negative commandments.  The Torah Portion of Metzora has 90 verses, and 11 positive commandments.Haftorah: "V'arbaah Anashim"  (Malachim Beit 7)

Shabbat Shalom.
May you all have a light-filled and happy Shabbat.

L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben R' Chaim ztz"l, Nilkach
L'Bait Olamo Yud Gimmel Tishrei 5772

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