This week’s toirah is coming a bit early as the Oisvorfer is off to a Boro Park simcha by one of his chasiddim.
By the time you finished reading last week’s toirah, you were mammish an expert on the woman’s uterus and mistama you did your own b’dika over the weekend searching for the seven chambers. Nu, did you find any?
In this week’s heylige parsha of Metzora, a stand alone in this iber yiur (leap year), we will lean all about the leper, the contaminated house and clothing, and at the very end, about the Zov and the Zova. What’s that you ask? Normally I would be lambasting you for not knowing, ober es ken zeyn (it’s entirely possible, even probable) that even had you paid attention in class, you wouldn’t have known. Why? Because mistama (likely) the Rebbe didn’t want you to hear and zicher didn’t want to discuss emissions while you were so impressionable. Instead he was willing to show you, no questions asked- nebech – and sometimes he takah did- loi olainu. In any event, we’ll try to touch on this, I mean discuss this topic towards the end of the shiur.
Now don’t skip ahead because avada there are toirah gems before we get to talk of seminal and non seminal emissions, chas v’sholom. Halt kup (pay attention) as we try to get our hands around this somewhat shverer (difficult) parsha. Given your very shvach (woefully weak) backgrounds in the toirah, especially in this Sefer Vayikra, we’ll go slowly; let’s begin.
So, what is a metzora and why is there a heylige parsha named after it? Would you name a parsha after a cancer, chas v’sholom? Is leprosy epes like a hurricane that requires a name? Nu- taka an excellent kasha. And how does one recover from the affliction? This week, the toirah outlines the process of the metzora’s purification and rehabilitation. Seemingly a metzora is a person that has tzora’as- simple enough. And apparently, this tzara’as can manifest itself on the person’s body (anywhere), even on his house or clothing. Whatever and wherever: if he has or had it, he needs to be purified; as well, the house and the kleider (clothing) he wore. We’ll jump around a bit and try to tie it all together and make sense of this.
Most people enjoy reading about the disease of Tzara’as about as much as they enjoy a root canal. It’s about white patches and red blotches on the skin, bodily inflammations and distortions; examinations by the Kohain, and the ejection of the “leper” from his tent and camp. In any event, if a person has an outbreak of tzara’as anywhere, he must immediately call his local koihan since they are the ones responsible for the identification, purification and the recovery process of the metzora.
Why does one become afflicted? Says the medrish and takah, it seems to be the prevailing accepted p’shat: a person gets tzora’as by speaking loishoin horah (ill) of others. Simple enough and who can’t relate? According to this p’shat, the entire BNY would or should be lepers: have you yet met more than one person in your entire life time that doesn’t speak loshoin horah? Said Reb Yoichanan in the name of Rev Yoiseph ben Zimra: One who bears evil tales will be visited with the plague of tzara’as…said Resh Lakish: What is the meaning of the verse, “This shall be the law of the metzora” (first possik of the pasrsha)? It means: This shall be the law for him who is motzi shem ra (play on words: one who gives a bad name through slander). Our sages avada bring various proof texts, including references to our great leaders Miriam and Moishe to show how even she was afflicted after speaking ill of others (her own brother).
And says the heylige Gemorah (Erachin 15b-16a): Because of seven things the plague of tzara’as is incurred: slander, bloodshed, false oath, incest, arrogance, robbery and envy. I can see that most of you are guilty of at least two of these on a regular basis, perhaps more. And according this gemorah, wouldn’t you expect a great majority of the yiddin to be afflicted with some form of the machla (disease)? Mistama, there’s more to it.
I guess we can all envision some form of skin affliction; nu, the dermatologists also deserve a parnosah. Didn’t they toil in medical school for years? Ober, what we learn is that the Toirah relates to tzara’as as a spiritual disease, meaning a disease whose outcome (and presumably its cause as well) affects the world of the Mishkan and ones encounter with the RBSO.
Is this machla inexplicable from a biological and physiological standpoint? Is it some miraculous attack form the RBSO? A few of the choshova Doctors on this burgeoning toirah list can certainly tell us of skin diseases that fit the Toirah’s description (think vitiligo and psoriasis). Ober since the disease is treated with Koihanim and sacrifices as opposed to ointments and antibiotics, it is to be understood within the context of spirituality, the Temple and the world of serving the RBSO. Exactly what all that I means, I’m not exactly sure but epes it sounded good.
Indeed, the kohain is integrally involved in this entire cleansing and purification process and has two roles vis-a-vis the patient. Only the kohain can make the diagnosis and has the power to declare that any colored patch of skin or hair is or is not tzara’as. Ershtens (firstly), like a shtikel doctor, he has to diagnose the disease and determine if it’s really tzara’as or efsher a carpet burn, if you chap. If yes, mistama he can bill your insurance carrier (after he pockets the co-pay). Then he has to atone for and purify the patient.
Let’s learn a few pisukkim so that we have some basic understanding of the process. Sadly, most of you are clueless about this entire inyan but if the RBSO dedicated an entire parsha to this affliction and how to rid oneself of it, mistama we should have some basic background and who better then the Oisvorfer to shed some light and color? The toriah sets forth in quite elaborate detail the multi step procedure which includes:
Visual inspection by the kohain, a bird korban ceremony including cedar wood, scarlet and hyssop; a wash (him and his clothing), a shave and haircut, immersion in the mikveh, another series of korbonis and more. Says the toirah azoy:
And the RBSO spoke to Moishe, saying: This shall be the law of the metzora on the day of his cleansing; he shall be brought to the priest. The Koihain shall go out of the camp; and the priest shall look, and see if the plague of tzara’as has been healed in the leper.
Next: the Koihain takes two live and kosher birds, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop. One bird is slaughtered over an earthen vessel with fresh spring water.
The live bird, the piece of cedar, the scarlet thread and the bundle of hyssop are then dipped into the blood of the slaughtered bird and the spring water in the earthen vessel. The blood and water mixture is also sprinkled seven times on the metzora, and the live bird is “let loose into the open field.”
Next: the metzora shall wash his clothes, and shave off all his hair, and bathe himself in water, and be clean, and after that he shall come into the camp; but he shall remain outside his tent seven days. On the seventh day, the metzora-in-purification once again washes his clothes, shaves his hair, and immerses in a mikvah.
On the eighth day he bring a series of offerings: two male sheep–one as a guilt offering and the other as an ascending offering–and a female sheep as a sin offering; all three are accompanied with “meal offerings” consisting of fine flour, olive oil and wine. A pauper who cannot afford three sheep substitutes two birds for the sin and ascending offerings.
Blood from the guilt offering is sprinkled on the cleansed metzora‘s earlobe, and on the thumbs of his right hand and foot. Oil from the meal offering is placed on these parts of his body and on his head, after being sprinkled seven times in the direction of the Holy of Holies in the Sanctuary. Thus, “the priest shall make atonement for him, and he shall be purified.”
All this for some loshoin horah? OMG!! This is one hell of a process and mistama were it around today, would be an excellent deterrent. On the other hand: nothing but death will ever stop people from speaking loshoin horah. I’m not even sure about that.
In case you’re wondering about the use of cedar wood, says Rashi: it was used because afflictions come to a person due to his haughtiness (their great height). Mistama, the metzora’s wood also played a role in his less than stellar behavior. Rashi also says that the metzora must leave his ‘tent’ .and that these words mean that he is forbidden to have marital relations. Somehow, no matter the topic, you can bet that relations are mentioned. And did you think the esihes chayil or his neighbor or others were epes tempted to have relations while the leper is in full bloom?
Rashi also says that the RBSO hates loshoin horah and that the signs of tzara’as for someone speaking loshoin horah (evil speech) appeared immediately ober (but) for other cases for which tzara’as might be found, it appeared gradually to give one a chance to do teshuva (repent). Is it possible that since they all spoke loshoin horah that they all immediately broke out, all looked the same and to one another, they all looked normal? Ver veyst?
Says the Medrish – Every word that has ever comes out of our mouths is taped in himmel (Heaven) and will be replayed for us one day. Yikes! Being taped is not good, I know!
Say the Baal Haturim: Tzara’as has nothing to do with loshoin horah (thank the RBSO) and that afflictions came upon the BNY (yiddin) for the chait ho’eygel (sin of the golden calf). Seemingly, the BNY paid a huge price for this debacle. He also says because of the temptation of the nochosh (snake) and the gantze mayseh of Odom and Chava, women became infected with discharges, and the snake with tzara’as. That farkakte snake still causes trouble today, if you chap.
Nu, given that Choidesh Nissan is here and Pesach but days away, it’s taka opportune that we discuss this next topic: tzara’as and housecleaning. What is it and how does a house get tzara’as and how does one get rid of it? Can a house really get Tzara’as? Says the heylige toirah: When you enter the land of Canaan that I give you as a possession, and I inflict upon a house in the land you possess, the owner of the house shall come and tell the priest saying, “Something like a tzara’as has appeared upon my house.” The priest shall order the house cleared before the priest enters to examine the tzara’as, so that nothing in the house shall become impure.
It appears to be some type of disease that grows on buildings, and many have speculated that it might have been some type of mold. This takah sounds logical enough, but whatever the plain meaning of the text is, our Chachomim (sages) in the heylige gemorah (Sanhedrin 71a) declared that “there has never been, nor will there ever be, a house smitten with tzara’as. Why then was the law given? To study it and be rewarded for studying it.” In other words, what is most important is not the nature of the actual plague (which may have never existed), but what we can learn from it allegorically. Takah an excellent p’shat and I’m guessing that the gemorrah is implying the same for other things we find perplexing, especially farfetched aggadatas (an inyan we’ll cover next year with help from the RBSO).
What? An entire parsha dedicated to the Metzora with detailed instructions in the heylige toirah where every single word counts and the gemorrah states that it’s all fiction and only there for education and allegorical purposes? Say it’s not so, please!
Quoting the famous Midrash (Vayikra Rabbah 14:7) Rashi says that when the owner of a tzara’as-stricken house would tear down his home, as instructed in the toirah, he (the owner) would find golden treasures. These riches had been left by the previous Emori inhabitants of the houses, who, fearing the BNY’s (yiddin’s) impending invasion, had hidden their valuables in the walls. When did all this happen? When the BNY were wandering in the Midbar. You hear this? Seemingly Tzara’as, especially on a house, is a good thing, maybe even great. Mamish riches hidden in the walls and the RBSO in his magnificence put tzara’as (perhaps mold spots) on the house so that the Yiddin would have it diagnosed by the Koihain who mistama (like the insurance adjustor) took a cut for his diagnosis, then they cut down the wall or sometimes the whole house and in this process, treasures were exposed. So far so good. You gotta love it and this is takah what the medrish and the gemorrah says and who are you to argue or even question?
Happy as we are to hear this p’shat, it is a shtikel shver (a bit hard) to understand and also puzzling. Takah why? Because our sages (Chazal) in a number of places clearly associate tzara’as with major sins, particularly Loshoin Horah. What could possibly lead Rashi (and the Midrash he quotes) to believe that tzara’as on a house signifies something positive?
Moreover: how could the phenomenon that carries so many negative associations, and which the Toirah constantly calls a “Nega,” (affliction), have such a positive aspect to it? Furthermore, the gemorrah states explicitly in several places (Yoma 11 and Arachin 16) that tzara’as afflicts houses because of the owner’s stinginess, particularly because of denying that one has the means to aid others. Do I know? I just teach what’s already written.
Says the heylige gemorah (in support of this last p’shat), this is the reason that the owner of the house must clear his possessions out of his house – he is being forced to publicly display the true extent of his means, contradicting his stingy claims. According to this p’shat, tzara’as on a house, like the other forms of tzara’as, is clearly a punishment for inappropriate behavior. How can we reconcile this with the positive light in which Rashi seems to view this phenomenon? Ver Veyst? Who says everything has to reconcile? When was the last time you reconciled your checkbook?
Nu, we have a page and then some to go before I lose you completely and how better to close out this mysterious parsha than with a discussion on emissions and I don’t mean from the Japanese nuclear facilities. I have a feeling you’ll find this sugya (topic) interesting.
The zav is a man who has a white (other than standard), non-seminal discharge from his reproductive organ (shmekel). Stop the presses, come again! Grada, since high school I thought that all white emissions were standard. Ok- that was mamish a mouthful and mistama you’re wondering-what- this is mamish from the toirah? Yes it is. Others takah say it is referring to semen mamish and mistama this you can chap, or did you?.
Says the mishna: A Zav is a man who emits Zov two or three times, whether it’s emitted in one day or in two or three consecutive days (impressive). A Zov is a clear discharge with the appearance of the white of a sterile or spoiled egg, in contrast with semen, which has the consistency of fresh egg white. Look who I’m teaching! Efsher, he had too much protein and was just purging. A Zov can also be a pus-like discharge resembling the liquid from barley dough or soft barley batter. Anyway, he’s tomay (not pure). In any event, a man who emits Zov one time is Tamei like a Ba’al Keri and must immerse and wait for nightfall to become Tahor. Takah (really), what’s so giferlich (terrible) about an accidental discharge? And when was the last time you had an accidental discharge, you chazzir? And when was the last time you called someone in to check your discharge so that it could be determined if the emission was of a seminal nature or just pain zov? And whose job is it to inspect the discharge? And where does one train for a job like this? Yeshiva? Ver veyst (who know)?? In any event, in order to start his purification process, a Zav, checking once in the morning and once towards evening (by his Rebbe?) must count seven clean days in which he experiences no discharge of Zov. On the seventh day or afterwards, he must immerse in a spring during the day. At nightfall he becomes Tahor, unless he suffered (or enjoyed) from yet another emission, if you chap. If a Zav emits Zov only two times, he does not bring a Korban. Even if the first time was b’Oines, as long as the second emission was not, he is Tomay. If he emitted Zov three times, whether it is emitted in one day or in two or three consecutive days, he has to bring a Korban after he becomes Tahor (on the eighth day) in order to enter the Beis ha’Mikdash and to eat Kodshim (holy food). The Korban is two Torim (turtledoves) or two Benei Yonah (common doves), one offered as an Olah and one as a Chatas. But in case the chazir (pig) had three emissions, he is only obligated in a Korban if the *first two* were not b’Oines. What an Oines emission you ask with such interest? Nu, I’ll tell you. An Oines emission is one that is due to an external cause. The seven external causes are: 1. eating too much; 2. drinking too much; 3.carrying a heavy load; 4. jumping; 5. being sick; 6. (a) seeing a frightening sight (Rashi to Nazir 65b); (b) seeing a woman, even without having unclean thoughts (ROSH to Nazir ibid.); 7. having unclean thoughts. Well well, need I say more? I see you’re mamish confused: bottom line- you’re all tomay- when was your last b’oines discharge? The third emission may come about b’Oines according to the Rabanan. According to Rebbi Eliezer, he is only obligated in a Korban if *all three* emissions are not b’Oines (Nazir 65b). However, if the Zav had an emission during Shiv’ah Nekiyim ( seven clean days), even b’Oines, all agree that this emission stops his count, and he must start counting again (RAMBAM, Hilchos Mechusrei Kaparah 3:1). If the Zav emits Keri during the Shiv’ah Nekiyim, he loses that day, but he continues his count on the next day. If, however, the third time that a Zav emitted Zivah occurred during his Shiv’ah Neki’im, he is not required to bring a Korban. Rather, he begins a new count of Shiv’ah Neki’im. Even if he emits Zivah three times consecutively during Shiv’ah Neki’im, he need not bring a Korban (RAMBAM ibid. 3:4). Following this reasoning, a Zav will never be required to bring a Korban unless he emits Zivah three times during *three or less* consecutive days. OMG- did you chap all that? There is also a “ritual impurity” (of a lesser degree – one-day type) in cases of normal seminal emissions. A woman who has relations with a man also contracts this one-day Tum’a. Ok- one more time for you chazerrim: A seminal discharge (whether in coitus or otherwise) renders the person ritually impure for one day–until the next sunset and immersion in a mikveh. Nu, are you in the mood already?
Raboyseyettes: guess what? The Toirah didn’t forget about you. A woman with an unnatural discharge also has a specific set of rules. In the case of a Zava, there are differences in her status depending upon how many sightings of blood there are, and how frequent. Noch a mol (one more time): The zava, is a woman who experienced certain bodily discharges other than standard menstrual bleeding. As opposed to the cases of a ba’al keri and nida, who experience normal discharges of semen or menstrual blood, the situations of zav and zava are considered extraordinary and call for extraordinary measures. – the zav by virtue of the nature of the issue, the zava on account of the unusual timing. Their purification process is therefore more demanding, requiring, among other things, the offering of a sacrifice, consisting of two birds. Efhser your’e wondering as to the difference between regular semen emissions and those of the Zav and similarly between the Nida and her regular bleeding and those of an unnatural manner. Nu, so was I. And you may also be wondering why the purification process is different. And takah (seemingly) you’re not alone.
Says the Meshech Chohma (15:14): there’s an important difference in this regard between the zav and zava on the one hand, and the metzora – on the other. Earlier we learned that the metzora‘s purification process likewise culminates with a sacrificial offering, only this offering consists of two sheep, rather than two birds. (one exception is for a destitute metzora, who can substitute two birds for one of the sheep.) The procedure for offering an animal sacrifice is considerably more complex than the procedure for a bird offering. Whereas the procedure for a bird offering could be completed independently by a single kohain, an animal sacrifice required the involvement of several kohanim (maybe they were afraid that the koihanim would get shpritzed). The Toirah required the zav and zava to bring only birds so as to spare them the humiliation that would result from the involvement of a team of kohanim. In other words: emissions are for the birds unless of course they’re seminal. The metzora, however is already exposed, so to speak, so the toirah explicitly requires his status be made public. There appears to be no interest in keeping this information private. Therefore, unlike in the cases of zav and zava, a metzora is required to bring animal sacrifices, which entail the participation of several kohanim. Ok, let’s eat!
A gitten shabbis-