Raboyseyee and Ladies,
Twitter: Rooted in the Heylige Toirah
Were the founders of Twitter Jewish? Yes and no! According the Achroin Wikipedia, a latter day sage who seems to know everything, true and not, Twitter was created in March 2006 by Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams, and was launched in July of that year. By 2018, more than 261 million users posted 500 million tweets a day, and the service handled an average of 1 billion search queries per day. Though the original idea is attributed to Jack Dorsey, a goy mamish, the name Twitter (spelled ‘twttr’ at the time) is attributed to Noah Glass, a nice Jewish boy. And listen to this: According to interviews with about a dozen early investors and employees, the story of how Twitter was actually founded begins with an entrepreneur named Noah Glass, who started Odeo in his apartment.” Odeo began in Glass’ apartment. Ober, how is Noah’s Twitter idea related to our parsha? Let’s find out.
Welcome to parshas Metzoira where two birds, spring water in an earthen vessel, a piece of cedar wood, a scarlet thread, and a bundle of hyssop are featured, and are all used to purify -in some difficult to chap manner ritual- one who has become afflicted with tzo’ra’as. What is tzo’ra’as and why does one become so afflicted? How does it manifest? Does tzo’ra’as still manifest in our times? Can it be prevented? Is there a vaccine? Can it be found among certain people of certain sects who refuse to vaccinate? Is it mamish a disease and can one taka become purified by using the above mentioned items in some holy mixture and ritual? Why is the Koihen (priest) involved and does he get paid for the house call? Nu, lommer lernin (let’s learn).
Nu, to chap what’s going on here and what –according to our sages- the heylige Toirah is trying to teach us. Let’s begin with a quote from the heylige Gemora (Eyrechin 15b–16a) which tells us azoy: said Rebbe Yoichonon in the name of RebbeYosei ben Zimra: One who bears evil tales will be visited with the plague of tzo’ra’as. ReishLokish (a reformed highway robber) said (azoy): What is the meaning of the verse “This shall be the law of the metzoira”? It means: This shall be the law for him who is motzi shem-ra (‘gives a bad name’ through slander).” And one more quote: “Because of seven things the plague of tzo’ra’as is incurred: slander, bloodshed, a false oath, incest, arrogance, robbery and envy.”
And before we answer the questions, let’s also remind you that one can and does also become ritually impure after a seminal or other discharge in a man – emissions, so to speak, menstruation, or other discharges of blood by a woman. These emissions require a trip and dip into the mikveh. Let’s open one more window. Though modern-day mikvahs resemble miniature lap, or swimming pools, their initial purpose was to serve as a ritual bath where both men and women –separately avada- could become purified after defilement for various reasons including those outlined above. In our times, and mistama going back to ancient times, the mikveh is also a gathering place for wayward rebbes and other deviants who are attracted to other men, ober that for another day. Finally, a mikveh –especially one for men- is primarily used to spread rumors about the latest high flying stocks and of course other gossip. In other words: though one is required to dip into the mikveh for being a metzoira, meaning that he has become afflicted with tzo’ra’as –mistama as a result of his slanderous speech –bad-mouthing and spreading rumors about others- it’s in the mikveh mamish where much gossip has its roots. How all that works, ver veyst? And the kasha is azoy: does one become ritually purified or contaminated while speaking loshoin horo in the mikveh itself? So confusing, ober let’s go veyter.
So, what is a metzoira 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 all excellent kashas. And how does one recover from the affliction? This week, we’ll discuss discharges. Not from the hospital, a nursing home, the military, or even from prison, if you chap. We will? Ober halt zich-eyn (keep your pants on): grada, that’s usually a good way to prevent discharges, if you chap, though not always. Discharged from where, you must be klerring? Nu, the heylige Toirah does not disappoint, and if the RBSO decided to include discharges in His heylige Toirah, avada we must learn the sugya (subject). Efsher you’re longing for and miss terribly the exciting stories we read back in Sefer Bereishis about individuals, their challenges, successes and foibles. Ober not to worry, Parshas Metzoira, read alone this year without its sister parsha of Tazria, is not at all boring.
This week, the Toirah outlines the process of the metzoira’s purification and rehabilitation. Seemingly a metzoira is a person who has tzora’as: simple enough. And apparently, this tzora’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 hearing the rabbi’s shabbis hagodol drosho. 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 koihen since they are the ones responsible for the identification, purification and the recovery process of the metzoira. Was the koihen also a skilled medical practitioner? Why was he so appointed?
Why does one become afflicted? Says the medrish and taka, it seems to be the prevailing accepted p’shat: a person gets tzara’as by speaking loshoin horah (ill) of others. Simple enough and who can’t relate? Ober, if that’s the emes, shouldn’t all the Yiddin be afflicted? Have you –in your entire lifetime- met more than one person who doesn’t ever speak loshoin horo?! Might that not be the reason? Might it be OK, since it’s the accepted minhag ho’oilom (universally accepted) to then bad mouth others?
Our sages avada bring various proof texts, including references to our great leaders Miriam and Moishe in order to show how even she was afflicted after speaking ill of others (her own brother, oy vey). 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 one’s encounter with the RBSO. Is this machla (the affliction) then inexplicable from a biological and physiological standpoint? Is it some miraculous attack from 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 means, ver veyst?!
Indeed, the koihain is integrally involved in this entire cleansing and purification process and has two roles vis-a-vis the patient. Only the koihain 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.
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. Efsher then!
Says Rashi: 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 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!
The bottom line comes from the Baal Haturim who says azoy: Tzora’as has nothing to do with loshoin horo (thank the RBSO) and that the afflictions of Tzo’ra’as –whatever they really are- came upon the Yiddin only for the chayt ho’eygel (sin of the golden calf). Seemingly, the Yiddin paid a huge price for this debacle. Moreover, because of the temptation of the nochosh (snake) and the gantze myseh of Odom and Chava (Adam and Eve) during which the snake convinced Chava to partake from the forbidden fruit, while he himself also partook, according to some, if you chap, women became infected with discharges, and the snake with tzara’as. That farkakte snake still causes trouble today, if you chap.
Earlier (on page one), we mentioned that two birds were needed as part of the purification process. We also mentioned the origins of Twitter. And they are connected and how? Says Rashi (Vayikro 14:4) and the heylige Gemora: two birds were required because the plague of tzo’ra’as comes for punishment for evil- talk, which is an act of chattering. Therefore birds are needed for his purification. Why birds? Because these chatter continuously with a twittering sound. Bazman hazeh (in our times), Twitter does exactly that.
A gittin Shabbis-
The Heylige Oisvorfer Ruv