Vol 22.10 - Tazria-Metzora Spanish French Audio Video
Relation between the names of the Sidrot to their topic.
Connection of the aspects of Nega'im;
Lesson: Seeding and causing to grow a blessing
The Name of the Parsha
Since the vast majority of the Parsha deals with the laws of tzara'as, we need to explain the connection between this affliction and the name of the Parsha-Tazria--which refers to conception and birth.
At first glance, they seem to be contradictory themes: tzara'as is an unpleasant condition, which requires total isolation from the Jewish camp, such that the Talmud states: "the tzara'as sufferer is comparable to a dead person" (nedarim 64b). How then is this connected with Tazria - conception and birth?
A fundamental principle of Jewish Philosophy is that the punishments administered by the Torah are not intended to harm a person in return for the harm that he caused, but rather, the punishment is primarily for the benefit of the transgressor himself (see Kuzari 2:44; Ikarim 4:38)I. This is because suffering caused by a punishment cleanses the soul, allowing it to come close to God once again, either in this world or the next.
In most cases, the goodness within a punishment is not apparent to an onlooker, or to the sufferer however, it is clear that his punishment is actually for his own benefit. For by begin declared ritually impure, requiring total isolation, he will soon learn not to speak gossip any more, since there is simply no one to speak with him.
Thus from the case of the tzara'as sufferer we understand that in all other cases too, even where it is less apparent, the Torah's "punishments" are aimed at helping the sufferer correct his ill ways, and begin a new life, corrected of his former faults.
And that is why our Parsha is called Tazria, alluding to conception and birth, to teach us that just like the case of tzara'as, all the punishments of the Torah are intended to help a person have a spiritual rebirth in their lives, correct their past ways, and start anew.
(Based on Likkutei Sichos vol. 22, pp. 70-73)
The titles given to Torah portions do more than distinguish one from another; they reflect the theme and overall content of each.1
What possible connection is there then between the title of Tazria (“Conceive”) and the contents of this portion, which deal mainly with the leprous-like affliction of tzora’as — unknown nowadays — that resulted from evil gossip, Lashon HaRah.
Not only does the title Tazria seem to have no connection with tzora’as , they are seemingly antithetical:
Tazria, “Conceive,” refers to birth and new life, as the verse states:2 “When a woman conceives and gives birth…,” while tzora’as indicates the very opposite, as our Sages state:3 “One afflicted with tzora’as is considered as if dead.”
The concept of Reward and Punishment is one of the foundations of Jewish faith. The Rambam states it thusly:4 “The eleventh fundament is that G‑d rewards those who obey the Torah’s commandments and punishes those who transgress them….”
Since the Torah is replete with verses that indicate that G‑d is compassionate and merciful, it follows that His punishments are not for the sake of revenge5 — Heaven forbid — but are for the sinners benefit.6
However, it is not patently obvious that most of the Torah’s punishments benefit the individual during his lifetime. This was not the case regarding tzora’as ; it was clearly revealed that this benefited the person:
The Rambam writes:7 “This alteration of tzora’as that affects clothing and dwellings…. was not a natural phenomenon. Rather, it was a sign and a wonder that affected the Jewish people in order to keep them from speaking Lashon HaRah. For he who speaks Lashon HaRah will have the beams of his house altered by tzora’as.
“If he repents, then the house becomes undefiled… If he does not… ultimately the person himself will become afflicted with tzora’as , and will have to be separated from others until he ceases occupying himself with evil speech, scoffing and Lashon HaRah.”
Thus, G‑d reordered nature to keep individuals from engaging in Lashon HaRah. Tzora’as would first afflict a person’s home, then his clothing, and finally his person, in order to tell the sinner, gently at first and then more severely, to stop indulging in Lashon HaRah.
Even the punishment of the person himself, which required that he “sit alone; outside the camp shall be his dwelling,”8 was for the purpose of seeing to it that he “cease occupying himself in evil speech, scoffing and Lashon HaRah.”
The reason why this portion is titled Tazria will be understood accordingly: Tazria , “Conceive,” is the beginning of life. The tzora’as itself, as well as the person’s dwelling alone, are not so much meant as a punishment, but as a means of rectification and healing, enabling one to begin a new lifestyle free of Lashon HaRah.
All aspects of Torah serve as a lesson. Tzora’as , then, was clearly for the benefit of the individual. The same is true of all punishments in the Torah; they are all for the rectification of the sinner, that he return to the proper path in life.
And why is this lesson specifically gleaned from tzora’as ? Because the suffering of tzora’as — being considered as if dead and compelled to exist in absolute solitude — is one of the most severe in the Torah.
If in this instance we can clearly see the benefit — being reborn anew, Tazria — then surely this is so with other punishments: they are all part of a sinner’s spiritual rehabilitation, thus helping make a new beginning possible.
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