Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
  The Living Law
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Parshas Tazria

Tzaraas: Spot Checks

The Mitzvah

The appearance of tzaraas, a leprous spot upon man's skin necessitated a check by the kohen who would determine whether this rendered him as spiritually impure (Vayikra 13-14).

One point worthy of reflection, in the realization that tzaraas was a spiritual rather than a physical malaise, is why this specifically develops upon the skin.

Granted that this was due a spiritual default within the person – such as haughtiness or speaking lashon hara, evil speech. But why the "spot check" appearing on the body's surface? Why this peculiar outer manifestation of the inner defects within man?

The transition in Adam's primeval sin, as we've discussion upon other occasions, was from a body radiating an incandescent Ohr, "light" in G-dly service to a more physical body with Oyr, "skin" that blinded and veiled the inner soul within man. The word Oyr, "skin" is related to Ivver, "blind person" because in his diminished, fallen state, his body now took on a layer of skin. It became a veil rather than a reflector to reveal the divine in the universe.

Skin is the layer of separation, the interface between within and without.

In a sense, it is the symbolic boundary between the soul within man and the body that covers it. Accordingly, this powerfully evokes the tragic result of sin, as originating in the Garden of Eden, as an "strengthened" barrier constructed between man and G-d.

In past generations, people were clued into their spiritual performance. Where they lapsed by not living up the ideal, there immediately surfaced an external manifestation and clear indicator of their inner defect. This was a supreme act of divine kindness as it enabled them to quickly fix their wrong-doings. And to take steps to remove this undesirable blockade.

Here tzaraas formed upon the skin to indicate the presence of a "spiritual" blockage, or the partial withholding that was preventing the Pneimiyus, "the inner essence" within man's soul, to be fully revealed and illuminated outwards.

Such contamination affects the essence of man's spiritual endeavors. And in the same way the total withdrawal of the life force from within the person radically impacts upon the composure of the body, so too, explains the Kuzari, does the withdrawal of even some of the divine light within man also result in a changed appearance as evident in tzaraas.

Like a sewage, drain or pipe blockage requires a plumber for the system to be fully functional, so too, is the employment of a religious plumber necessary in order to remedy the spiritual failings externally manifest in the tzaraas.

Enter Mr. Kohen.

The task of the kohen was to spiritually unblock the obstacle and readdress the causes of the sin. He admonished the sinner to cleanse out the contamination clogging up his soul and to eject evil from within. That called for his full repentance for his iniquities. And who better than the kohen? He was tuned into the concept of Pneimiyus, "internality" where his whole being was devoted to the worship of G-d in the Sanctuary and whose head, the kohen gadol, was the one to enter the Kodesh Hakodoshim, "the inner sanctum" on Yom Kippur.

Only through employing the greatest efforts to demolish this blockage, can the inner holiness be revealed. The tzaraas vanished once his repentance was complete.

Our task today, albeit where this mitzvah has no practical application, is to contemplate our actions, speech and thought and unblock all those sinful attempts to conceal His Presence. We have to invest all our efforts in making our beings a conduit to reveal G-d in the universe.


The course is presented by Osher Chaim Levene, author of SET IN STONE (2004: Targum) about the meaning of mitzvah observance and PEOPLE OF THE BOOK (2007: Targum) about the biblical personalities. A London-based writer and educator whose website www.mitzva.org explores the wisdom of the commandments, he learned at the Gateshead and Mir Yeshivas, holds a Bachelor of Science (Honors) business degree from London's City University, and is a Member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.


 


ARTICLES ON VAYIGASH AND CHANUKAH:

View Complete List

“So you Think You’re The Man, Alexander?” (Insights for Chanukah)
Jon Erlbaum - 0

Before the Picture is Complete
Rabbi Label Lam - 5764

Analyzing The Imagery of A Familiar Chanukah Poem
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5765

ArtScroll

Natural Miracles
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5766

Mystery of History
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5757

Tears of Joy (And Joseph Wept)
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5768

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Hanukkah
Rabbi Naphtali Hoff - 5775

Light From Darkness, Take Two
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5766

Time Study
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5766

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Don't Rehash The Story of My Sale To Egypt
Rav Frand - 5768

The Key To Something More
Rabbi Label Lam - 5762

Everyday Miracles
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5764

> Walls - and Worlds - Apart
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5774

We Cannot Hide
Rabbi Label Lam - 5763

Shadowy Existence
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5763

Shedding Light on the Identity Crisis
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5759



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information