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As we said last week, last week's parsha, Tazria and this week's are usually combined in a double parsha and read together on the same Shabbos. But this year we're reading each parsha on its own Shabbos. Both of these parshas are concerned with the spiritual disease of Tzoraas, cause by certain sins, especially loshen hora (derogatory talk about another).

The first aliyah contains the elaborate procedure to be used by the Kohane to purify the one who has tzoraas (the Metzora) from his tzoraas. 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; and third, the eyebrows were shaved off, as they did not prevent his eyes from looking narrowly and with greed at the possessions of others.

The second aliyah continues to describe the purification process of the Metzora after he is cured of his tzoraas.

The third 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 fourth aliyah discusses tzoraas that afflicts houses. We see here that 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, and when the Jews took possession of those houses after entering the land, the houses contracted tzoraas. When the Jews broke down the walls, they found the treasures.

The fifth aliyah ends the discussion of tzoraas and begins the discussion of the impurity of a man with a male discharge.

The sixth 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 and the whole family, and contributing to the unnaturally low divorce rate among its adherents.

The seventh aliyah completes the discussion of Taharas Hamishpocha and the other forms of ritual purity and impurity begun in this parsha.


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