• Tazria – Metzora ~ 5772 ~ תזריע־מצרע

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    Tazria – Metzora ~ 5772 ~ תזריע־מצרע

    Tazria — 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.

    Metzora — The Torah describes the procedure for a metzora (a person afflicted with tzara’at – biblical leprosy) upon conclusion of his isolation. This process extends for a week and involves ritual sacrifices and immersions in the mikveh. Only then, a kohen may pronounce the metzora pure. A metzora of limited financial means may substitute lesser offerings for the more expensive animals.

    Before a Kohen diagnoses that a house has tzara’at, household possessions are removed to prevent them from also being declared ritually impure.

    The tzara’at is removed by smashing and rebuilding that section of the house. If it reappears, the entire building must be razed.   The Torah details those bodily secretions that render a person spiritually impure, thereby preventing his contact with holy items, and the Torah defines how one regains a state of ritual purity.

    The rituals of purification and sacrifices for women are given here corresponding to previous sacrifices for other cleansings. Both men and women must abide by the laws of family purity.

    MAFTIR Leviticus 15:31 – 33 ~ page 477

    HAFTARAH II Kings 7:3 – 20 ~ page 477

    King Ben-Hadad of Aram besieged Samaria and the resulting famine reduced many to cannibalism. Elijah the Prophet assured the king: “At this time tomorrow, a sea of fine flour will sell for merely a shekel, and two seas of barley will sell for a shekel in the gate of Samaria.'” One of the king’s officers mocked Elijah. Elijah responded, “Behold, you will see with your own eyes, but you shall not eat there from.” Four lepers in quarantine were so hungry they decided to enter the enemy camp to beg for food. They arrived to find a deserted camp. For “G-d had caused the Aramean camp to hear the sound of chariots and the sound of horses, the sound of a great army…” The entire enemy army fled, leaving behind their tents, horses, donkeys and provisions. The four men went to the city and reported their findings to the gatekeepers who, in turn, informed King Jehoram. The king sent messengers who confirmed the miracle. The people swarmed out of the city and looted the enemy camp, thus breaking the famine and fulfilling Elijah’s prophecy.  The antagonistic officer that was placed in charge of the city gates was trampled to death by the rampaging crowds — but only after seeing the fulfillment of the prophet’s words.