Apr 21, 2023 By Jan Uhrbach | Commentary | Metzora | Tazria | Shabbat Rosh Hodesh
The double parashiyot of Tazria and Metzora are devoted in their entireties to the Biblical notion of tumah, usually translated as “impurity.” In them, we learn three of the major sources of tumah: childbirth (Lev. 12); a condition known as tzara’at, which can manifest on skin, clothing, or the walls of one’s house (Lev. 13–14); and bodily secretions (Lev. 15). The two other primary sources of tumah are touching or carrying the carcasses of certain animals (Lev. 11) and contact with a human corpse (Num. 19).
But what is the essential nature of tumah, and what does it have to do with Emily Dickinson’s poem?Read More
Apr 16, 2021 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Metzora | Tazria | Yom Hazikaron-Yom Ha'atzma'ut
In the precious days “Before the Coronavirus Era” (B.C.E.), the parshiyot of Tazria-Metzora seemed wholly disconnected from our lives, presenting the perennial challenge of relevance (or irrelevance) to even the most talented darshan (sermonizer). How are we to connect leprous plagues attacking both body and abode to our daily lives? And to what extent does the experience of quarantine resonate with our modern reality? These are only two of the many questions that we would have posed in a pre-Covid world.
Apr 24, 2020 By | Commentary | Metzora | Tazria
For many of us, the Torah portions of Tazria and Metzora have never felt so relevant. While in years past there was a great sense of distance from the confusing descriptions of biblical skin afflictions, the quarantine of afflicted Israelites, and the complex post-illness purification process, it feels difficult to escape their prescience during our current global pandemic. As we all struggle with the challenges of social distancing and the uncertainty of the future, I believe that insights into the details of our parshiyot can provide us with points of reflection for our present reality.Read More
Apr 20, 2018 By Jan Uhrbach | Commentary | Metzora | Tazria
A Light exists in Spring
Not present on the Year
At any other period—
When March is scarcely here
The double parashiyot of Tazria and Metzora are devoted in their entireties to the Biblical notion of tumah, usually translated as “impurity.” In them, we learn three of the major sources of tumah: childbirth (Lev. 12); a condition known as tzara’at, which can manifest on skin, clothing, or the walls of one’s house (Lev. 13–14); and bodily secretions (Lev. 15). The two other primary sources of tumah are touching or carrying the carcasses of certain animals (Lev. 11) and contact with a human corpse (Num. 19).Read More
Apr 28, 2017 By Abigail Uhrman | Commentary | Metzora | Tazria
Becoming is better than being.
—Carol Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
This week’s parashah discusses tzara’at, a skin disease understood in rabbinic tradition as punishment for lashon hara, evil speech. The public castigation that the metzora suffers is a powerful warning for us to “guard our tongues.” It was with words that God created the world, and our words have potential to build, create, and sustain life and human dignity, or to be a source of pain and destruction.Read More
Apr 28, 2017 By Joy Ladin | Commentary | Metzora | Tazria
The idea that others would examine and report on intimate details of our bodies—that such things would be of communal concern, and subject us to institutional regulation—may seem archaic. But as transgender people know, when it comes to gender, this kind of surveillance is alive and well.Read More
Apr 9, 2011 By Abigail Treu | Commentary | Text Study | Metzora
Rabbi Morris Shapiro (z”l) spent his last years teaching in the JTS beit midrash. He was a Holocaust survivor and arguably one of the best talmudic minds of his generation, and we who had the privilege of learning with him here knew well that one of his most frequently cited teachings was the phrase this midrash brings to mind: know before Whom you stand.Read More
Apr 15, 2016 By Ally Sterling | Commentary | Metzora
This week’s parashah, Metzora, details the special procedures a kohen performs to purify the recovered metzora (a person suffering from some kind of skin condition), tzara’at in the home, and ritual impurity. Metzora is about the insides (childbirth and emissions) and outsides (skin afflictions) of the body. I created Inside Out as part of a series of biological drawings that explores the beauty and intricateness of the inner workings of the human body. When I made Inside Out, I wanted to explore the different functions and shapes of human anatomy and physiology, and also the way in which everything is connected.Read More