Apr 2, 2011 By Marc Wolf | Commentary | Tazria | Shabbat Hahodesh
It seems more than kismet that Passover falls when it does, following on the heels of the parashiyot of Leviticus in which we discuss the most base of subjects. In fact, rabbis and commentators through the ages have found the laws of tum’ah and tohorah (ritual impurity and purity) covered in these weeks before Passover so unsettling that, presumably in reaction, they have enthusiastically embraced the following statement from the Talmud: “Questions are asked and lectures are given on the laws of Passover beginning thirty days before” (BT Pesachim 6a). Surely, this is an avoidance tactic on the part of rabbis, but maybe it is also for the sake of the community—to save them from many discussions that would make them lose their appetites for the kiddush that follows services.Read More
Apr 9, 2013 By Alan Cooper | Commentary | Metzora | Tazria
At a glance, the opening chapters of Parashat Metzora seem like a biblical antecedent of WebMD. Leviticus 13 describes the disfiguring symptoms of צרעת/tzara`at, starting with “a swelling, a rash, or a discoloration” that “develops into a scaly affection” (Lev. 13:1).Read More
Apr 24, 2015 By Julia Andelman | Commentary | Metzora | Tazria
The double parashah of Tazria-Metzora ranks at the top of the list of parshiyot to avoid for a bar or bat mitzvah. Its detailed lists of bodily ailments—rashes, colorations, emissions, and secretions—associated with ritual impurity are not the stuff of religious inspiration in contemporary times. I confess to having once colluded with congregants to subtly move the date of their daughter’s bat mitzvah celebration slightly further away from her Hebrew birthday, in order to provide her with a more palatable Torah reading to chant and speak about than Tazria-Metzora. But this year—the year of #BlackLivesMatter—has caused me to read Tazria-Metzora through a new and painfully relevant lens.Read More
Apr 16, 2010 By Arnold M. Eisen | Commentary | Metzora | Tazria
The Baal Shem Tov, seeking the sort of symbolic meaning in this week’s section of Leviticus that we too search out, found the laws of scaling and scalding, bodily discharge, and fungus in the warp and woof of fabric suggestive of the need for repentance and humility.