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Tazria ~ 5774 ~ תזריע / Shabbat HaChodesh ~ שבת החדש
After childbirth, a mother was not to enter the Sanctuary for forty days if she had borne a son and for eighty days if she had given birth to a daughter. At the termination of these periods, she brought burnt and sin offerings to the Sanctuary and could then resume her normal life.
Nobody suffering from leprosy was allowed to enter the Sanctuary. Therefore, when a person’s skin showed symptoms resembling the early stages of the disease, he was brought before the priest for examination. Should the priest, after scrutinizing the spots or scabs, be unable to give an immediate decision, the sufferer was isolated for seven days and then re-examined. If the marks had not developed, a further confinement of seven days was required. Then, provided they had still not spread into the skin, the priest pronounced the person concerned as clean. If the contrary was the case, the priest was certain that this was indeed leprosy and he pronounced him as unclean.
A number of other suspected cases are listed together with directions to the priest on how to make a correct diagnosis. The leper was sent to live outside the camp with his clothes torn, his hair unkempt and his mouth covered. He called out the words “unclean, unclean,” as a warning to others not to touch him. A garment could also become infected by this disease (perhaps through contact with a leper). A similar procedure to that described above was followed – the priest carried out certain tests and the garment was burnt if he declared it unclean.
MAFTIR Shabbat HaChodesh Exodus 12:1-20 ~ page 253-257
HAFTARAH Shabbat HaChodesh Ezekiel 45:16 – 46:18 ~ page 1001
Read on the Shabbat before or on the first of Nisan: In the New Temple conceived by the prophet, the Prince of the nation was to be responsible for the supply of sacrifices, bought from public contributions, at the appointed seasons. Among the festival sacrifices were the offerings to be brought on the Passover.
Parashah HaChodesh Study Questions
1. The rabbis explain that Tzaraat is a punishment “in kind” (“midah keneged midah) for the anti-social conduct of evil speech, gossip, and greed. How does a skin affliction accomplish this?
2. According to verse 13:47-8, what fibers are excluded from getting “Tzarat”? What possible message can that convey to us today?
3. Tzarat can afflict a home interior, clothing and a person’s body. If the disease is caused by evil speech, how does that relate to the placement of the affliction?
4. A Metzora (a leper), must tear his garments, let his hair grow wild, and cover his lips with his garment and call out as he/she walks about the camp “Amei! Tamei” (“Impure Impure”). How does this relate to his punishment for Lashon Hara (v. 13:45)?
5. A garment with recurrent “Tzarat,” must be burned (v. 13:52). However, if after washing a garment, the signs of tzara’at disappear, the garment is purified through immersion in a mikveh. What does that teach us?