Points to Ponder

Tazria/Metzorah 5778

On the 8th day he shall have a Bris (12:3) – Why does a baby have a bris on the 8th day and not at the time of his birth? After all, isn’t the lack of a bris a Chisaron? Rav Hutner ztl. explained that while many think a Tzaddik needs to fall 7 times and then later he will overcome, the real truth is that had he not failed the first 7 times, he would not overcome. The message is solid – one needs to experience the imperfect in order to perfect it. This is the message of delaying Milah for a week.

She [the mother of a newborn] shall not touch anything sacred nor enter the sanctuary, until her purification period is completed" (12:4). What does Kodesh have to do with Tumah? Are these not two different orders? Rav Aharon Lichtenstein ztl. explained that the concept of Tumah and Kedusha are created by man’s activities. Man infuses the Kedusha and man is responsible for the concept of Tumah. Not every man, because someone outside the realm of kedusha cannot experience tum'a, defilement. Gentiles can live their lives in the "gray area." They do not have a world of kedusha, they have far fewer mitzvot to observe, and no ritual impurity affects them. The Jews were granted the possibility of reaching high levels of sanctity, they have many mitzvot and must adhere to a higher standard of values. But this is not given to us gratis. The elevated status of Am Yisrael carries with it tremendous responsibility, and one must ensure that he not diminish in any way the sanctity afforded to him. Anything in which we infuse kedusha must be guarded against tum'a. Herein lies the relationship between impurity and sanctity, a relationship that emerges throughout Sefer Vayikra.

He is a man with Tzaraas he is Tamai, The Kohein shall surely make him Tamai for his Tumah is in his head (13:44) – Rav Yitzchak Zilberstein Shlita quotes the Netziv here who differentiates between the Tzoraas of the body and that of the head. The one of the body are a result of the sins of Taavah. At the same time the one of the head are a result of the sins of the mind. The latter ones are more serious and need extra precaution when treating. Rav Zilberstein uses this logic to point out that when custody decisions are made, choosing between a guardian who suffers from Taava is better than choosing the spouse who has dangerous philosophies.

Alone he shall sit, outside of the camp is his place (13:46) – The Yalkut Shimoni mentions that there is a difference of opinion as to whether the Metzora must move 4 or 100 amos away. Dr. Jack Cohen explained that perhaps the difference of opinion is whether one must move a technical “Halachic” distance which is usually 4 Amos or perhaps a distance whereby his speech is not able to be heard (100 Amos). Rabbi Pinchas Shapiro added that today the distance might include travel to a location where there is no cell reception or data plan if we would be able to refer to the person as truly Badad.

This will be the rules for the Metzorah (14:2) - The Or HaChaim teaches that one who speaks negatively about his fellow is still called a baal lashon hora, even if what he says is the truth. When one sins, he is called a baal aveirah, baal lashon hora but when a boy reaches the age of thirteen, he is called a bar-mitzvah. Why the difference between Baal and Bar when it comes to Aveiros vs. Mitzvos? Rav Yitzchak Zilberstein Shlita notes that in regard to mitzvos we are considered children (of), since we do not separate ourselves from our parents. Through mitzvah observance we remain close to them and Hashem. When one chooses the path of sin, he has gone apart and owns his own path – he is a Baal Avairah.

The Kohein shall command and shall take 2 birds that are Tahor (14:4)The Zohar writes that one bird is the bird for Lashon HaRa and the other is the bird for Lashon HaTov. Why would one need to bring a bird for speaking Lashon haTov? Rav Bernard Weinberger Shlita (Shemen HaTov) explains that the lack of encouragement is also an Avaira. A similar concept is expressed by Chasam Sofer who explained that the reason Moshe spoke to Chochmei Lev even if they already were granted Chochma was that he was to encourage them to let them know he believed in their abilities.

Mayim Chaim (15:13) – The Chumash makes a distinction between Mikvah which needs to be standing still versus a Maayan which needs to flow. A Zav needs to be Toivel in a Maayan. Similarly, the ash of the Para Aduma needs to be in Mayim Chaim (though the Tamai Meis himself needs to go to Mikvah). The Metzorah’s bird needs to be dipped in Mayim Chaim as well. Rashi quotes from the Geonim that like a Zav needs Mayim Chaim so too, a Zavah needs Mayim Chaim. Elsewhere, Rashi says that this is not so. Rav Schachter Shlita pointed out that this is the more accepted position and this is why when a woman goes to Mikvah she does not have to go to a Maayan. The Bach suggested that Mayaan is necessary only to be matir her from Tumah. To be able to allow her to return to her husband perhaps a mikva is enough but explanation is not accepted by all.

Haftorah – There were 4 Metzoraim ()- The commentaries identify the 4 Metzoraim as Geichazee and his sons who were smitten with Tzoaas because he rebelled against the word of Elisha. Why was Geichazee doomed to a life without the possibility to do Teshuva? The Talmud actually castigates this idea (See Sotah 42a) adding that one should not be like Elisha and Geichazi rather Smol Docheif VYemin Mikareves. Why should one not adopt the approach of Elisha ? Rav Aharon Kahn Shlita explained that we need to be exceptionally careful of how we rebuke. He added that the Rasha at the Seder does not even get addressed (he is spoken “about” but not “to”) since he is not really ready to hear. But to turn our backs on him and to not teach him the road to Teshuva is dangerous. We need to be careful of rejection – Elisha rejected Geichazee and according to some, the latter went until he was responsible for putting the Shem HaMiforash into the Avodah Zara of Yerovam.