Weekly Torah Portion

Parashiyot Tazria-Metzora
April 29, 2017 – 3 Iyar 5777
Annual (Leviticus 12:1 – 15:33): Etz Hayim, p. 649

Haftarah (II Kings 7:3-20): Etz Hayim p. 676

We learn that, after giving birth, a mother is in a state of impurity, and following that time, she is not allowed to touch or be a part of sacred places. The duration of these ritual statuses is twice as long if she gives birth to a girl. And if she has a boy, the boy must be circumcised on the eighth day of his life. The mother becomes pure again after making a proper offering.

The text explores proper procedures for managing an outbreak of a skin affliction known as tzara-at. An Israelite priest examines such outbreaks and determines if they are chronic, and if they are causing such ailments as an infected burn or diseased hair or scalp. He even examines when such an affliction penetrates fabric or leather. The priest determines whether the person or object needs to be isolated and/or washed after a certain amount of time.

The second portion details how a person is purified from tzara’at. The purification includes ceremonies and offerings carried out by a priest in addition to the afflicted person washing, shaving, and cleaning his/her clothes. Offerings differ depending on the afflicted person’s wealth.

We learn that, when the Israelites enter Canaan, tzara’at can potentially afflict their houses. Depending on the degree of affliction, the houses must be scraped, or perhaps torn down, while those who enter the house must be purified.

Men and women with atypical discharges from their sexual organs are impure; this impurity can spread to someone who touches an afflicted person or items that an afflicted person has touched. A menstruating woman also is impure, as is anything or anyone she touches. Disregarding these laws puts the Tabernacle at risk of defilement, and, as a result, puts an afflicted person at risk of death.