Parshat Tazria/Metzora Highlights

24

First Portion:

  • The Torah seems to indicate a connection between Aharon’s sons, Nadav and Avihu, and Yom Kippur. We had discussed in Parshat Shemini, whoever feels bad of the great potential loss, whether it be the leadership qualities or the spiritual input in which they had the great ability to achieve and contribute to society, will merit atonement for their sins and will not have his children perish before they do.
    We should also realize the strict judgment of G-d, in which, even the greatest of his leaders are not spared from any sin. There is no exception to the rule. That is the mindset one should have entering the day of judgment, Yom Kippur.
  • We read in this portion in detail description of how the Kohen Gadol, the high priest, prepares himself and enters the holy of holies on Yom Kippur to ask forgiveness for himself and the nation. This important ritual was done yearly. We read this portion in one of the most crucial prayers, THE AVODAH, on Yom Kippur with the hope that just like G-d forgave the Jews on some of those occasions during the Temple times, so too will He find mercy and forgive us on this holy day.

Second Portion:

  • Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz asks, why do we send one of the goats to Satan? I understand scarifying the goat to G-d, but why in the world is Satan involved? As we had discussed in previous newsletters, ever since the sin of Adam, one of his punishments was that any good that will come his way, will always be marred with some bad. Here too, we give G-d a goat for a sacrifice, a highly spiritual gesture and consequently we therefore give to the other side, the devil, so he should feel satisfied and leave the spiritual sacrifice untainted.
  • Interesting to note, they drew lots on who will chaperone the goat dedicated to the devil up the mountain. The winner, or maybe a more appropriate term, the loser is destined to die within the year. As one could imagine, the emotions this individual is going through and the atonement for his soul in which he will accomplish with this act.
  • Abarbanel, one of the mainstream commentaries, as well as many others, say the se’ir la’azazel represents Eisav while the other identical twin who will be sacrificed to G-d, represents the good brother, Yaacov. The terminology se’ir is often associated with Eisav.

Third Portion:

  • In this portion, we learn the grave sin of eating blood. Blood is the life force of man. According to the sages, the soul is in the blood. Therefore, part of the blood on various sacrificial animals should be covered because it’s inappropriate to eat its flesh with the blood exposed (RAMBAN).
  • This section, where we discuss the forbidden relations, is also read on Yom Kippur.

Fourth Portion:

  • The Parsha of Kedoshim was taught to every member of the nation during a national assembly. It contains a multitude of fundamental Torah concepts such as the basic principle of “love your fellow man as yourself”. G-d wanted every single member of our nation to be present at the national assembly so that he would become familiar with this body of essential Torah laws. The portion of kedoshim is special because it contains parallels to all of the Ten Commandments which was also proclaimed in the presence of the entire nation.
  • Kedoshim means to separate oneself from the other nations since you are on a higher state.

Fifth Portion:

  • In this section, we have some of the most interesting teachings in the entire Torah. For example, the famous story of when someone not well-versed in Judaism, came to Hillel right before Shabbat and asked him to teach him the entire Torah. Hillel’s reply was “The Torah is based on this one line”, which happens to be from this section, “Love your fellow man, like yourself.” Much literature has been written on this particular phrase. There are many more lessons one can learn from this section, “Don’t hate your brother in your heart”, and “You shall not stand aside while your fellow is being killed”, to name a few.
  • It is forbidden to mate a male and female animal from different species. At the end of the sixth day of creation, the Torah comments “And G-d saw whatever He has made and behold it is very good.”(Bereshit 1:31) This implies that G-d, as it were, scrutinized each of the myriads of creatures which He had made and found it served the purpose for which it was brought into existence. By mixing species, which He separated and producing new kinds, we are defying His will.

Sixth Portion:

  • One can realize after reviewing this Parsha of Kedoshim, the sensitivity and care one is obligated to his fellow. This falls perfectly with the title of this parsha “Kedoshim ti-hiyu- be holy.” The Torah discusses one should treat a ger – convert – with the utmost respect. The narrative continues “because you were strangers and should realize being an unwanted stranger.”

Seventh Portion:

  • If one notices, there are five commandments in which we are obligated between man and his creator on the right side of the tablets and there are five on the left side that we are obligated between man and his fellow man. Honoring one’s parents is on the same side as the obligation between man and G-d. Obviously, we can deduce the importance of honoring parents. If one curses at them, whether they are alive or deceased, they incur the death penalty.

By Rabbi Avi Matmon