Double Torah Portion
This week's DOUBLE Torah Portion:
This is Parashat Tazria. In regular years Tazria is read with the upcoming Parashah of M’tzora. Due to the nature of this week’s discussion I must rely heavily upon the wisdom of the Chazal (our sages of blessed memory), as well as notes compiled during my various researches. I must admit that this particular topic is beyond my professional expertise. Please pardon my limitations. Our Sidra begins with the laws concerning a woman after childbirth:”When a woman at childbirth bears a male, she shall be unclean seven days... —On the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. —She shall remain in a state of blood purification for thirty-three days; she shall not touch any consecrated thing” (Lev. 12:2-4).The verse, “On the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised,” is marked in the Jewish Publication Society (JPS) translation as a parenthetical remark: it indeed appears to be out of place, for the verse before it and those after it all concern the unclean state of the woman and the process of her purification. Why then is the commandment to circumcise a son placed smack in the middle of the laws concerning the woman at childbirth?
This is Parashat M’tzora. This portion functions as a continuation of the previous passages dealing with the deadly disease of tzara’at, commonly called leprosy. During regular years, the two short portions are read together; in leap years they are read separately.The important lesson that must be appropriated from both Parashat Tazria and from Parashat M’tzora is that the disease of tzara’at could only be diagnosed and treated if it proved to be transitory. The job of the functioning cohen (priest) was to examine the patient, make notes on the condition, wait, reexamine the patient, make more notes, and finally pronounce the findings of his diagnosis. If you were fortunate his verdict was “tahor” (cleansed). For those unfortunate few who ended up with the chronic form of this skin malady their fate was sad indeed: banishment from the community of ritually clean people. The Torah prescribes no cure for chronic tzara’at.