Posted on March 31, 2011 (5771) By Rabbi Yochanan Zweig | Series: | Level:


“…he shall be brought to Aharon the Kohein, or to one of his sons the Kohanim” (13:2)

The Torah discusses a person who is afflicted with the spiritual malady known as “tzora’as”. Although it is a spiritual affliction, tzora’as manifests itself physically, in the form of a skin disease[1]. An individual suffering from this disease must be brought before a Kohein to be diagnosed. The Seforno questions why the Kohein is the only person empowered with the ability to proclaim the affected individual either tamei – impure or tahor – pure[2].

In all prior situations in Sefer Vayikra where a Kohein’s services were required, the Torah stated that the service shall be performed by either a Kohein or the children of Aharon the Kohein[3]. However, concerning tzora’as, the Torah states that the metzora shall be brought to either Aharon himself or one of his children[4]. Why does the Torah personalize Aharon’s involvement in this procedure?

Very often the manner in which a person validates his own standing in life and boosts his self-esteem is by focusing on the failures and shortcomings of others. The Mishna describes Aharon’s nature as an “ohev shalom verodeif shalom” – one who loves and pursues harmony[5]. Aharon had the ability to create harmony in relationships where there had previously been enmity[6]. Only a person who is predisposed to focusing on the positive traits of others can have this ability. Seeing the positive in others is what allowed Aharon to present a person’s former enemy as an individual worthy of his friendship.

It is this quality of Aharon which makes the Kohein worthy of diagnosing tzora’as. Only a person who searches for the positive in people is qualified to evaluate their flaws. A person whose predisposition is to search out the flaws of others, cannot render an objective judgment.

It is precisely for this reason that the Torah emphasizes Aharon personally. Unlike other services that any Kohein can perform by dint of his ancestral right, the ability to diagnose a metzora stems from his non-judgmental nature, to which all Kohanim are predisposed due to Aharon’s perfection of this quality.

1.See Rabbi S.R. Hirsch for definition of Tzora’as
3.See 1:4,7,8,11 etc.
6.Avos D’Rav Nosson

Pure Joy

“…she shall be impure for a seven-day period, as during the days of her menstruant infirmity shall she be impure. On the eighth day, (his foreskin) shall be circumcised” (12:2,3)

Parshas Tazria introduces the laws of impurity related to the birth of a child. After the birth of a male the mother becomes impure and is restricted from engaging in marital relations with her husband for seven days. The Torah compares the defilement associated with childbirth to that of menstruation. The expression used to describe menstruation is “devosa” which Rashi defines as a malady or infirmity[1]. Why does the Torah link these two forms of defilement? Furthermore, why is it necessary to define menstruation as a malady in the portion discussing childbirth?

Immediately following the verse which discusses the seven day defilement period of the mother, the Torah states “On the eighth day his foreskin should be circumcised[2].” The construct of the verses appears to be faulty; the antecedent in the previous verse is the seven days of the mother, whereas the “eighth day” is in reference to the child. Why is circumcision of the child on the eighth day described as an outgrowth of the seven days of impurity of the mother?

The Talmud teaches that the reason why circumcision is delayed until the eighth day is to allow for the parents to resume marital relations, for if circumcision were to be performed earlier, the parents would not be able to fully share in the joy of the occasion[3]. The Baalei Tosfos teach that the source for the celebration surrounding the fulfillment of the mitzva of circumcision is the grand feast that Avraham made for his son Yitzchak[4]. Why is the fulfillment of the mitzva of circumcision a cause for greater celebration than the fulfillment of any other mitzva?

The Talmud relates that prior to the sin of Adam and Chava, conception and childbirth occurred in rapid succession, a phenomenon to which the world will eventually revert[5]. The entire nine month process culminating with the birth of a child is the physical manifestation of the defect which occurred due to Chava’s participation in the Original Sin. This process begins with the menstruation cycle[6]. Therefore, both the defilement which occurs by menstruation and the defilement which signifies the culmination of the protracted birth process are inexorably linked.

The Ma’aseh Hashem describes the “garments of skin” which Hashem made for Adam, based upon a passage in the Talmud, as being the foreskin[7]; Adam was born circumcised[8]. Therefore, the foreskin represents the physical manifestation of sin within man. The reason why circumcision, more than any other precept, is a cause for celebration is that it represents man’s ability to remove from himself the effects of the Original Sin, to reconnect with his Creator.

Purity is attained when our closeness to Hashem is once again restored. Defilement is the state that occurs when there is a separation from Hashem. It is specifically for this reason that circumcision occurs after the seven day period of defilement. The ability for the parents to resume relations subsequent to the mother becoming pure signifies the transcendence from sin as well.