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The Weekly Aliyot
Providing a short summary of the Torah portion read
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Published and copyright © by Avrohom Gedalia Gershon


This parsha continues after parsha Shmini where Aharon and his sons were installed into the priesthood. This is a double parsha, made up of parshas Tazria and Metzorah. The seven aliyot of this week's reading are indicated in the Chumash by special aliyah markings within those two parshas.

The first aliyah begins with the law of a woman who gives birth to a male child, and the law of bris (circumcision) when the child is eight days old. The law of a woman who gives birth to a female child is given next. After that, this aliyah begins to describe the steps to be taken when a person contracts tzoraas, a spiritual disease of the skin that is often incorrectly translated as leprosy.

The second aliyah continues to describe the procedures used when a person contracts the spiritual disease of tzoraas. The disease of tzoraas can break out on a person's skin, their clothes, or the walls of their house. Various sins are said to cause tzoraas, included are: conceit or arrogance, loshen hora, acting miserly, idol worship (this was the punishment after the golden calf), immorality, murder, blaspheming G-d, robbing the public, and a person acting in a capacity not permitted to him.

Continuing with the laws of tzoraas, the third aliyah discusses baldness and the type of tzoraas that may be associated with it. Required procedures for one with tzoraas include the afflicted person calling out loud that he is ritually impure and that he shall remain outside the camp, all alone, until his condition clears up. Rashi says that he has to dwell alone because he caused a separation between man and wife or between two people by his loshen hora (evil talk).

This aliyah also discusses tzoraas that affects garments.

The fourth aliyah covers the seventh aliyah of Parsha Tazria and the first two aliyot of Parsha Metzorah. It contains the elaborate procedure to be used by the Kohain to purify the one who has tzoraas (the metzorah) from this condition.

In passuk 9, it states: "He shall shave off all his hair -- his head, his beard, and his eyebrows." The commentary Klai Yakar points out that the plagues that are mentioned in this week's Torah portions came as punishment for three things: haughtiness, gossip, and jealousy. Therefore, the cleansing process for one afflicted with tzoraas was done in the following order: First, the hair on the head was shaved off, because the person's excessive pride caused him to desire to be above others. Second, the hair of the beard was removed, because he did not control his mouth and spoke slanderously against his fellow man. Third, the eyebrows were shaved off, as they did not prevent his eyes from looking with greed at the possessions of others.

The fifth aliyah gives the manner of atonement for one who has tzoraas but whose financial situation limits what he is able to afford for his atonement. The commentary Tchelet Mordechai interprets the reason that it is permissible for a poor man to bring a smaller offering than a wealthy man, is that his poverty itself is an atonement, and through it, he is cleansed of his sin.

The sixth aliyah discusses tzoraas that afflicts houses. A house that contracts terminal tzoraas is to be broken down. In passuk 34 G-d says that when the Jews will get to the land of Canaan, G-d will give their houses the disease of Tzoraas. This is an example of the Jewish principle that whatever G-d does, is good. Here the Jews are told that, in Israel, their houses will contract tzoraas, and as a result will have to be broken down. But Rashi explains that during the 40 years the Jews are in the desert, the Amorite nation in Canaan hid their golden treasures in the walls of their houses. When the Jews took possession of those houses after entering the land, the houses contracted tzoraas, and when the Jews broke down the walls, they found the treasures.

The seventh aliyah discusses discharges from a male, as well as some of the laws of Taharas Hamishpocha (family purity), wherein a married woman follows the laws pertaining to her going to the mikvah. The laws of Taharas Hamishpocha are a gift from G-d to the Jewish people, invaluable to the physical and spiritual health of the children, the marriage, and the whole family.


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