The Parshah of Tazria continues the discussion of the laws of tumah v’taharah, ritual impurity and purity.
A woman giving birth should undergo a process of purification, which includes immersing in a mikvah (a naturally gathered pool of water) and bringing offerings to the Holy Temple. All male infants are to be circumcised on the eighth day of life.
Tzaraat (often mistranslated as “leprosy”) is a supra-natural plague, which also can afflict garments. If white or pink patches appear on a person’s skin (dark red or green in garments), a kohen is summoned. Judging by various signs, such as an increase in size of the afflicted area after a seven-day quarantine, the kohen pronounces it tamei (impure) or tahor (pure).
A person afflicted with tzaraat must dwell alone outside of the camp (or city) until he is healed. The afflicted area in a garment is removed; if the tzaraat spreads or recurs, the entire garment must be burned.
General Overview: The bulk of this week’s portion, Tazria, discusses various forms of tzara’at, skin maladies which are contracted as a result of engaging in forbidden gossip. Also discussed are certain garment discolorations which constitute “clothing tzara’at.”
First Aliyah: The Jewish people are instructed regarding the ritual impurity contracted by a woman who gives birth. The timeframe of this period of impurity differs depending whether the child is a boy or girl. At the conclusion of this period, the woman immerses in a mikvah and is required to bring certain offerings in the Temple. Incidentally, the Torah mentions the obligation to circumcise a male child on the eighth day of his life. The Torah then begins discussing the laws of tzara’at, a skin discoloration — often inaccurately translated as “leprosy” — which renders a person ritually impure. This aliyah discusses various forms of white skin discolorations. A person who has the symptoms of tzara’at must be seen by a priest. If the discoloration is deemed “suspicious,” the priest will immediately declare the individual impure or quarantine him for up to two weeks.
Second Aliyah: At the conclusion of the quarantine period, the priest either declares the individual pure or impure. The Torah then discusses what is done in the event that the tzara’at spreads after the individual was declared pure, or if there is raw skin within the tzara’at, or if the tzara’at has spread over the entire body.
Third Aliyah: We learn the laws of tzara’at which appears following an inflammation on the skin.
Fourth Aliyah: We learn the laws of tzara’at which appears following a burn to the skin.
Fifth Aliyah: In this aliyah we discover that tzara’at can also affect the areas on the body covered by hair. The symptoms and laws of such a tzara’at are quite different than standard tzara’at. This section concludes with the laws of a person afflicted by multiple dull white areas on his skin.
Sixth Aliyah: This section discusses tzara’at which appears on a bald spot, as well a white discoloration streaked with red, which can appear anywhere on the body. Also discussed is the procedure followed by an individual who is afflicted with tzara’at, the main requirement being that he must remain outside the city until his condition clears up. The Torah then discusses “clothing tzara’at,” a green or red discoloration which can affect certain types of materials. The garment is shown to a priest who quarantines it for up to two weeks.
Seventh Aliyah: At the conclusion of the quarantine period, depending on the circumstances the garment is either declared pure, or completely burnt, or only the part which was discolored is torn out and burnt.
Lecha Dodi, L’chah Dodi, Lekah Dodi, Lechah Dodi
Let’s go, my beloved, to meet the bride, Lekhah dodi liqrat kallah
and let us welcome the presence of Shabbat.
Lecha dodi likrat kala, p’nei Shabbat n’kabelah!