This D’var Torah should be a Zechus L’Ilui Nishmas my sister, Kayla Rus Bas Bunim Tuvia A”H, my maternal grandfather Dovid Tzvi Ben Yosef Yochanan A”H, my maternal grandfather Dovid Tzvi Ben Yosef Yochanan A”H, my paternal grandfather Moshe Ben Yosef A”H, my uncle Reuven Nachum Ben Moshe & my great aunt Rivkah Sorah Bas Zev Yehuda HaKohein.
It should also be in Zechus L’Refuah Shileimah for:
-My father Bunim Tuvia Ben Channa Freidel
-My grandmothers Channah Freidel Bas Sarah, and Shulamis Bas Etta
-MY BROTHER: MENACHEM MENDEL SHLOMO BEN CHAYA ROCHEL
-Mordechai Shlomo Ben Sarah Tili
-Noam Shmuel Ben Simcha
-Chaya Rochel Ettel Bas Shulamis
-And all of the Cholei Yisrael, especially those suffering from COVID-19.-It should also be a Z’chus for an Aliyah of the holy Neshamos of Dovid Avraham Ben Chiya Kehas—R’ Dovid Winiarz ZT”L, Miriam Liba Bas Aharon—Rebbetzin Weiss A”H, as well as the Neshamos of those whose lives were taken in terror attacks (Hashem Yikom Damam), and a Z’chus for success for Tzaha”l as well as the rest of Am Yisrael, in Eretz Yisrael and in the Galus.
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תַזְרִיעַ-מְּצֹרָע ● Tazria-Metzora
The Best Impurity
Parshiyos Tazria and Metzora revolve around the laws of Tumah that is associated with the living human body.
Impurity at Birth
In that vein, Tazria begins with the impurity of Yoledes (a postpartum mother). Simply put, when a woman gives birth, she is ritually impure. The Torah compares her to a Nidah. Now, although, in a certain sense, we might say that a postpartum mother resembles a Nidah, why should the miraculous and overwhelmingly positive event of Leidah, birth, generate Tumah? R’ Shimshon Raphael Hirsch provides an explanation in light of the spiritual mechanics of impurity, that it is generated by the void of life, and how, in the case of the postpartum mother, the fact is that a life was extracted from her, thereby leaving a void of life that was once there. While that might satisfy the “how” question, it doesn’t fully answer the “why” question. Granted, Hashem created spiritual mechanics that follow certain rules, but the celebratory occasion of birth did not have to be accompanied by ritual impurity. Perhaps we can’t fully know “why” it does, but it is fair to wonder: What kind of message is the Torah trying to send by associating impurity with the birth of a baby?
Tzara’as, Parts I & II
Now, Tazria and Metzora are most well-known for the topic that overlaps the two of them, namely Tzara’as, spiritual “leprosy” that can appear on one’s body or assets. This impurity, we can understand, as Chazal teach us that Tzara’as is the result of antisocial traits and behaviors such as arrogance and slander.
But a simple question is why, in fact, the topic of Tzara’as is divided between these two Parshiyos. Would it not have made more sense to have one Sidrah that contains all of the laws of Tzara’as?
“This will be…”
Perhaps the start to an answer to this second question can be found where the second Sidrah, Parshas Metzora begins.
“Zos Tihiyeh Toras Metzora B’Yom Taharaso…”-“This will be the teaching of the ‘spiritual leper’ on the day of his purification…” [Vayikra 14:2]
Apparently, Metzora begins with the purification procedure for the individual who was afflicted with Tzara’as. But, the question is why the Torah oddly introduces this topic in the future tense, “Zos Tihiyeh Toras Metzora B’Yom Taharaso”-“This WILL BE the teaching of the spiritual leper on the day of his purification”?
Living for Another
Returning to the topic of Yoledes, although it is unclear why the occasion of the birth of a beautiful baby should be met and hindered by ritual impurity, perhaps a simple message is that, indeed, although there is no greater blessing than parenthood, the job of living for another comes with spiritual sacrifice and sometimes filth. To live for another sometimes means getting dirty. It is not just the burden of diapering. There are many spiritual sacrifices that come with being a parent, just because the “other,” in this case, the baby needs you. Davening is compromised. Torah learning is compromised. And all of the Chessed must begin at home, starting with one’s children.
In a similar vein, the Kohein who administers the rite of Parah Adumah, to purift another, contaminates himself! It is spiritually taxing, but to be able to live for another is the greatest Brachah. The trick is to strike the appropriate balance and to figure out how to incorporate spiritual growth into the seemingly grounding experience of living for the sake of others. But, that, perhaps, is among the many challenges that comes with the “Tumah” of childbirth.
Living for Yourself
If all of the above is true, Tumas Yoledes finds a profound foil in Tumas Tzara’as. As was mentioned, Tzara’as is the result of antisocial traits and behaviors. The treatment for Tzara’as is seclusion and isolation, being away from society. This is because, indeed, he did not live for others, but rather, his spiritual impurity was the result of miserable life lived purely for himself.
Yoledes vs. Metzora
When we consider this contrast, maybe we can understand why Tzara’as is divided into two Sidros. Although childbearing comes with “impurity,” the process is self-contained, the reward of living for another can usually be appreciated immediately, and the eventual purification is foreseeable.
But, when one becomes filthy with spiritual impurity due to zero sacrifices that he made for others, and due to the fact that he lives only for himself, the bitter experience of self-inflicted isolation drags with no foreseeable end. There is a long waiting period wherein one can only meditate, be humbled, and think about what it means to live with others, for others. The separation between Parshas Tazria and Parshas Metzora tells us that, indeed, there is a suspenseful waiting period; “When will that day come when I can get another chance to live with others and for others?”
That Day Will Come
And this break may explain the Torah’s usage of the future tense. Because although the Metzora finds himself quarantined in Tazria, the Torah tells us that, “Zos Tihiyeh Toras Metzora B’Yom Taharaso,” that eventually, if he is ready to submit himself, that day will come when he could live, not just for himself, by himself, but with others and for others.
Pick Your Impurity
Impurity seems to be an inescapable reality of life. Yoledes teaches us that it exists even in the best case scenario. If you live for others, it is going to happen. The skeptic will argue that “No good deed goes unpunished.” But, only a Metzora-hearted individual can’t recognize the difference between the bitter impurity of living for oneself versus the most fulfilling impurity of living for others. But, after experiencing the isolation of the Metzora, even he will figure it out. We might not be able to entirely avoid “impurity,” but we have the incredible merit of being able to pick our impurities. Let us choose wisely.
May we all be Zocheh to live for others, enjoy all of the Brachah that comes with it, and we should be able to sense Hashem living with us and for us as well as He invites us back into His camp and shares His Shechinah with us in the times of the Geulah, Bimheirah BiYomeinu! Have a Great Shabbos!
-Yehoshua Shmuel Eisenberg