Keep Calm and Consult a Priest

Keep Calm and Consult a Priest

Apr 8, 2016 By Hillel Gruenberg | Commentary | Tazria

Tazria begins with a discussion of the ritual purity of a woman following childbirth and goes on to relate the treatment of leprosy. Reflecting on this juxtaposition of topics, my thoughts turned to the Zika virus, which has garnered global attention because of evidence it may cause birth defects in the children of mothers infected while pregnant. 

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Here I Am, <em>Tzara’at</em> and All

Here I Am, Tzara’at and All

Apr 8, 2016 By Rachel Rosenthal | Commentary | Tazria

When I was 12, a few weeks before my bat mitzvah I went in to meet with one of the rabbis of my synagogue. At the time, the synagogue newsletter included a “pasuk of the week,” a verse from that week’s Torah portion that was particularly interesting or thought provoking. However, as the rabbi confessed to me, the week of my bat mitzvah was to be the end of that custom. He just couldn’t find anything that fit the bill. That week’s parashah? Tazria.

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Refining God’s Creation

Refining God’s Creation

Apr 29, 2006 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Metzora | Tazria

Too often our perception of God’s creations and works assumes a sense of completion and perfection. We tend to place an inordinate share of responsibility on the shoulders of God, as it were — arguing that God’s involvement in creation necessarily implies wholeness. Our parashah this week, Tazri·a-Metzora, however demonstrate otherwise; humans are commanded to complete creation and enter into partnership with God. This lesson is evident from the opening of Parashat Tazri·a, which teaches, “On the eighth day, the flesh of [a newborn male’s] foreskin will be circumcised” (Leviticus 12:3). Why does God make a deliberate choice to create boys uncircumcised? What does this act teach us about the significance of brit milah — both for the particular act of circumcision and more generally, regarding the essence of Judaism?

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Abracadabra!

Abracadabra!

Apr 24, 2004 By Rachel Ain | Commentary | Metzora | Tazria

Abracadabra! These words, recited by magicians all over the world, when broken down into smaller words introduce us to the truest mystery-the creation of the world. A’bara K’adabra – I will create as I have spoken. Just as magicians claim to have the power to change the reality that is in front of them with words, so too, when God created the world it was done not with hands, not with tools, but with speech. In Genesis 1:3 the first thing that God does is to speak. This verse reads, “And God said: ‘Let there be light’; And there was light.” What is it about the power of the spoken word that causes it to transform worlds?

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Know from Whence You Come

Know from Whence You Come

Apr 13, 2002 By Melissa Crespy | Commentary | Tazria

Commentators throughout the ages have been perplexed as to why a woman who has just given birth is considered by the Torah to be impure, and furthermore, why she needs to bring a sin offering after the birth! (Leviticus 12: 2, 6) After all, isn’t the first commandment given by God to Adam to “be fruitful and multiply”? (Genesis 1:28)

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Like a Gazelle Crying for Water

Like a Gazelle Crying for Water

Apr 29, 2006 By JTS Alumni | Commentary | Metzora | Tazria

By Rabbi Aubrey L. Glazer

The gazelle is always in motion skipping through the mountains if she is not getting pierced by Thorn bushes. Surely she doesn’t feel it. Let’s say it another way. Already. She cannot delay.
       —Ayelet Solomon, Aphorisms on the Persistence of the Gazelle (2004)

To give birth or to be given birth — that is the question! At the heart of this week’s Levitical regulations concerning the new mother is a highly legal section of Torah that seems less concerned with the new mother’s experience of birth than with how to conceptualize, order, and contain it through law.

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Miracles of All Kinds

Miracles of All Kinds

Apr 24, 2004 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Tazria | Yom Hazikaron-Yom Ha'atzma'ut

Conspicuous miracles move us more swiftly and deeply than inconspicuous miracles. The latter elude our detection because they are an everyday occurrence. The commonplace numbs our sense of wonder, even as the daily experience of grandeur strips us of awe and radical amazement. It is surely one of the functions of religion to keep our wellsprings of wonder from running dry.

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Purifying Waters?

Purifying Waters?

Apr 28, 2001 By Melissa Crespy | Commentary | Metzora | Tazria

“These are the verses that try men’s souls.” Or better, these are the verses that pain the souls of numbers of serious Jewish women. I refer to Leviticus 12:2—5 in Parshat Tazri·a, and Leviticus 15:19—24 in Parshat Metzora. The first verses describe the laws regarding the days of a woman’s “uncleanness” (tum’ah) after giving birth to a child, which last twice as long if she gives birth to a female child. The second verses refer to the “impurity” of a menstruating woman (niddah). Anything she lies on or sits on becomes “unclean,” and any man who has sexual relations with her also becomes “unclean.” While almost all of the Torah’s impurity laws became obsolete after the destruction of the Temple, these laws, regarding postpartum and menstruating women, remain on the books.

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