Weekly Parsha Review Laced with Humor and Sarcasm from The Oisvorfer Ruv

Metzoira 2024: The Fab Five

Raboyseyee and Ladies,

The Fab Five:

And here we are, the last Shabbis before Pesach and welcome to Parshas Metzoira, read alone this year and every lunar leap year.  Though tzora’as is long gone as a form of warning and or punishment, this parsha is not all boring. Farkert (the opposite is true) as it contains many interesting laws about those with discharges of various forms. More on them below.

In the orthodox world, this shabbis is also known as Shabbis Hagodol (the big Shabbis, though some refer to it as the great Shabbis). Exactly what that means and why this shabbis has taken on that moniker, ver veyst? One thing is zicher: each answer reviewed, left the heylige Ois somewhat unsatisfied.

More than half the parsha is dedicated to the purification process and reentry into the camp for the metzoira -who had previously been diagnosed -by the local koihen of course- with tzora’as which may or may not make a comeback when the Moshiach makes an appearance. The emes is when he does appear, he will be besieged with some many questions, it will take him years to sort out the thousands of issues that are subject to machloikes (disagreements) in the heylige Gemora and in dozens of other halachic responsa. The bottom line: the person, the metzoira suffering from tzora’as became impure and was excommunicated from the camp.

Let’s go veyter because the action picks up later in the parsha when the RBSO tells Moishe about other people who have become impure for various reason; they all require some form of purification. More on these folks below, ober let’s get back to the age-old question: Why taka was this shabbis rebranded to be known as Shabbis hagodol? What’s so big or great about this shabbis? Let’s find out what a few had to say and not surprisingly, the heylige Ois was able to dig up myriad reasons proffered. Which one is the truth? Ver veyst? The emes is that none were very satisfying. According to some, the first ever Shabbis hagodol took place in Egypt on the 10th of Nisan five days before the Israelites were chased out. On that day, the soon to be Yiddin were given their first commandment which applied only to that particular Shabbis. Says the heylige Toirah (Shmois 12:3), “On the tenth day of this month (Nisan)… each man should take a lamb for the household, a lamb for each home.”

Says the medrish (Medrish Rabbah) azoy: “When they (the future Yiddin) set aside their paschal lamb (Pesach sacrifice) on that shabbis, the first-born goyim gathered near the Israelites and asked them why they were doing this. They answered: “This is a Pesach offering to G-d who will kill the firstborn Mitzrim” as in you guys. To save their own lives, the bechoirm-goyim (firstborn) ran back to their fathers and to Paroy requesting that the Jewish people be let free. Paroy refused. Next: they waged a war against their own people and many were killed. Did that really happen? Ver veyst? And that’s why I love the medrish.

Ober, let’s check out the Tur who says not such nice things about the Yiddin of that generation. The lamb -as we were taught in yeshiva- was the Egyptian deity. Many Yiddin, after 210 years of immersion within Egyptian civilization, had also adopted this animal as their god, say it’s not so, but the Tur says you are dead wrong. As an aside, many also -says another medrish- adopted hot Mitzri shiksas whom mistama they also worshipped. Were some tied up? Ver veyst? Did this happen? Why not? Veyter!  Ober, when the RBSO commanded that a lamb be set aside and tied to the bed for four days in anticipation of sacrifice, the Yiddin suddenly abandoned their idolatrous practices and courageously fulfilled this mitzvah mamish in the eyes of the Egyptian people, thereby demonstrating their complete trust and faith in the RBSO. The bottom line: they believed and became penitents. Nothing could have been more abominable to the Egyptians as their god was to be slaughtered. Nevertheless, miraculously the Mitzrim were unable to stop the determined Yiddin. They watched helplessly. This event took place on shabbis and shoin: the great miracle (nes godol) of that day gave this shabbis its new moniker. Gishmak!

Others suggest that the customary lengthy Shabbis HaGodol drosho (speech) delivered by most rabbis in our times, makes the shabbis feel long, drawn out, and ‘godol.’ Shoin and now you know. Veyter.

Strap in and buckle up; we are about to meet some of the more colorful characters that Sefer Vayikra has to offer. None are mentioned by name but rest assured that you will not soon forget them. We have already met the Metzoira -male or female (who, and as mentioned last week) got a parsha named after themselves) and it’s time to meet the Zavs, also male or female. We will also meet the Motzie Shicvas Zera – the person with a seminal emission who at least at times, emitted for naught, if you chap. Thanks to Seinfeld, in recent years, this person has become colloquially known as the master of his own domain. We will also meet the Nida, a woman during her menstrual cycle. Indeed, the heylige Toirah leaves nothing and no subject matter untouched. The bottom line: touching her and others from the above mentioned, is verboten, even by hand. Shoin and now that we have your attention, let’s learn some parsha.

What do all the above mentioned have in common? Discharges. Not from a gun used on a movie set, not from a jury pool, the military or even from ones’ many debts. 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 dedicate the last 33 pisukim to discharges in His heylige Toirah, avada we must learn and re-learn the sugya (subject). For total transparency, we covered some of this back in 2014. So shoot me for a shtikel repeat of this section as the heylige Ois is busy deciding which of the myriad rabbis he knows and has a relationship with, can he trust to adequately represent him in the sale of his chometz as Pesach approaches. So happens that we must give credit to Chabad who were the first to offer on-line sale of chometz.

Shoin, let’s get back to the dischargers. You can find these individuals at chamishi (5th aliya), closer to the end of the parsha, the part you never get to because you lost concentration while engrossed in conversation about cancelled flight to Israel, your choice of Miami over Orlando, and farkert. Or, you might be engrossed in stam narishe loshon horo with your chaver. Don’t you remember that Miriam, Moishe’s sister got Tzora’as for speaking loshoin horo? Not to worry: she recovered!

The bottom-line: A series of commandments which surround these mystery people, made for a whole lot of interesting Gemora and medrish discussion. We will learn some of them below. Because they are a shtikel graphic, the heylige Ois will -instead of giving his own spin- quote them verbatim (almost). Of course you will find a shtikel commentary along the way. There are many, way too many for this short review, ober we will try to cover a few interesting highlights.

Let’s meet the fab five. Each of them is tomay (impure) for a different reason.  We have already covered the metzoira and let us say hello to the ‘yoiledes’ (a women who gave birth to either a boy or girl, the ‘zav’, the ‘zava’ (male and female leakers), and the ‘nida’ (she in her menstrual cycle and beyond). Oh, and let’s not forget the emitter. Back to that person soon. And what do they all have in common? They all -says the heylige Gemora- belong to a subset of tum’a known as “tumois-hayotzois-migufo” (the source of tum’a is mamish the body of the tamei). In plain English: something coming out of them renders them impure. The good news: Seemingly, things going in -for some of the group- are ok, at least at certain times, if you chap. Shoin! The bottom line: at the point of discharge, they are impure. Not by coming into contact with something else, or something they contracted from the outside, but as a result of a body condition where something oozed, flowed or otherwise came out of them. And what is that something? Let’s find out.

They include – the zav (literally the flow), a man with an unusual penile emission; a man who had a regular seminal emission; the nida, the woman who has menstruated; and the zovo, the woman who has had an irregular flow of blood. The Toirah says all that? For the most part, yes and of course the heylige Mishneh, the Gemora and myriad medroshim fill in the blanks. Nu, do you see why it’s important to learn the heylige Gemora daily and why hundreds of thousands do so all over world?

Says the heylige Toirah (Vayikro 15:2) azoy: Speak to the Children of Israel and say to them: Any man, should there be a discharge from his body, [because of his discharge] he is impure. A later posik will discuss female discharges. In other words: a he or she, who has a flow from their bodies, is a zov or zovo.  A flow? What the hec is a flow? Nu, for now, a flow is a discharge. And shreklich as it sounds, the heylige Toirah discuses those very discharges you are most familiar with, chazerim that you are. We’re talking semen, indeed we are. Or are we? And if not exactly semen, it epes looks like semen, ver veyst. And we’re talking blood. Welcome to the laws of the zov and zovo, the male and female offenders. Who are they? They are the discharges and because they discharged, they are tomay. Is that so giferlich? Haven’t many of you been discharging zov since in high school? And ever since? Shoin, no need to answer that. Didn’t your rebbe at least one of them- enjoy zaving all over himself and others when he could find a victim? Let’s go veyter.

And who were the experts that chapped what the heylige Toirah meant? The heylige Gemora of course and let us learn a portion of Nida (Daf 35): A zav or zov is a man who has an emission similar to, but not identical to, a seminal discharge. He is tomei and he transmits tumah only through contact. What to do? He immerses in a mikvah on the same day and he is tahor (pure) by nightfall. (Of-course this assumes that the mikveh itself is not full of zav from the last pervert who dipped in, if you chap.) This also assumes he emitted only once. Shoin! But, continues the heylige Gemora, azoy: …..if he experiences two emissions, he is upgraded and now classified as an ‘av hatumah.’ Many men are eligible for this upgrade. His ability to transmit tuma through contact is upgraded as well; he’s a carrier. He must observe seven clean days and then immerse in spring water. Interestingly enough, a woman does not require spring water; any mikveh water will do.  That for another day. And as expected, there is also the case of the zov who discharges three times; wow! In any event, the three-time offender will need to bring a korban (sacrifice) as part of his purification process. Of course, there are loopholes in counting and says the Gemora that if one of the three emissions was caused by stimulus -whatever that means-that one discharge does not count towards the three that would require a korban. In other words: stimulated discharges do not count towards the zov count.

Ober what is a discharge that epes looks like semen but may efsher not be real semen? Said Rav Huna azoy: The discharge of a zov resembles the dough water of barley. The discharge of the zov issues from dead flesh- meaning a limp organ, while the real thing, semen, issues from live flesh – meaning an erect organ. Shoin, no further commentary required; all you chazerim know exactly what Rav Huna meant. Been there, done that! Ober he continues: The discharge of a zov is watery and resembles the white of a spoiled egg, while semen is viscous and resembles the white of a sound egg. You hear this raboyseyee? Grab the heylige Gemora and start your engines.

Said Rashi who is quoted verbatim, azoy:I might have thought, a discharge from any place [in the body] would make him impure, Therefore the verse says “from his body” – and not all his body. Now after the verse distinguished between flesh and flesh (i.e. flows from different parts of the body), I might reason, that once [the Toirah] declared a man with a discharge unclean and a woman with a discharge unclean, (I would reason) that just like a woman with a discharge from the place [in her body] that she becomes unclean with a lesser impurity – the menstruating woman – so from that same place does she become impure with a stricter impurity – a discharge – likewise with a man, from the place (his sexual organ) from which he becomes impure with a lesser impurity – a seminal emission – from that same place he becomes impure from a greater impurity – a zov.”

And what does all that mean? Ver veyst. And why is Rashi discussing discharges from organs? Ver veyst? Seemingly, like in the army, not all discharges are the same; certain discharges are sanctioned and givaldig and certain, mistama the ones more familiar over the decades, make a person impure. Wait, Rashi is not quite done, though you may be, if you chap. By logical analysis, Rashi concludes that the discharges mentioned above, refer to bodily fluids coming from the male or female organ of the person and not from any other discharge in the body. What’s pshat? Seemingly, puss from a wound or blood from the mouth does not render one impure.

Zicher not all discharges are the same. Discharge (zovo) from a woman is blood (posik 19), the same as the blood she discharges when she is menstruating (the lesser impurity). The difference is that menstruation comes at a more or less fixed time in the woman’s monthly cycle, while the zovo discharge comes any other time. But both are blood. For men there is a difference. His zov discharge is not blood; it is a semen-like substance. But it is seemingly different from the healthy semen that is active in conception. Ok, a few more items of interest about this standup guy.

A man who emits a discharge that may be zov is “checked” to determine whether or not he becomes a zov, got that? If the discharge came about b’Oines (accidentally but due to an external cause), he is tahoir (pure). How does one discharge zov accidentally? Says the heylige Gemora that such accidental emission can come about from seven external causes. 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 (see the Rosh to Nazir ibid.); 7. having unclean thoughts. Nu, need more be said? Bottom line: guilty as charged! You all qualify!

And 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 plain simple and unadulterated zov? And whose job is it to inspect the discharge? And where does one train for a job like this? Ver veyst?

In any event, in order to start his purification process, a zov, checking once in the morning and once towards evening, must count seven clean days in which he experiences no discharge of zov. On the seventh day or afterwards, he must immerse in spring water during the day. At nightfall he becomes Tahor, unless he suffered (or enjoyed) from yet another emission, if you chap. Much more can be written about the zov and zovo, ober let’s move on to another interesting person and let’s give a warm hello to the Baal keri. Who is that? Is it you? Someone who emits semen once is a Baal Keri. Maybe it’s taka not you! In other words: a Ba’al Keri is a man who ejaculated and was required to immerse in a mikveh before learning Toirah and davening. A zav is someone who has two or more emissions. And the difference? The former is tomei until he immerses in a mikvah, and after that, needs only to wait for nightfall to be permitted to eat kodshim (holy food), assuming that’s what he wants to eat. The latter cannot purify himself in a mikvah until he has seven days with no emissions. And, if he had three emissions, he was of course a superstar but did subsequently needs to bring a korban before he could eat kodshim again (holy food).  Another difference: A Baal keri gets that status whether intentional or accidental, while a zav is only when it was accidental.

Given these very interesting laws the govern the zov and zovo, efsher you’re wondering why daily mikveh dipping isn’t mandatory? Whatever happened to this halocha? Is the mikveh a dangerous place? Sadly, it was when the future Ois was growing up!

As stated above, no one chapped this topic more than the heylige Gemora; let’s then learn one more givaldige piece that will put your mind to rest. And because this topic is mamish so explosive, if you chap, the Ois has decided to quote (in English of course) this next portion. The sidebar comments are of course his. Says the heylige Gemora (Yuma 88a) azoy:  One who experiences a seminal emission [inadvertently –adds Rashi] on the day of Yom Kippur, all his sins will be forgiven.” Is that all it takes? Is that why they instituted the davening break? Ver Veyst? Another Gemora states: “All his sins are arranged before him?” What does this expression “arranged before him mean?” [It doesn’t mean in order that he will be punished] but rather so that he will be forgiven. Ober before we answer, let’s see one more shtikel Gemora. In the School of Reb Yishmael it was taught, one who experiences a seminal emission on the day of Yom Kippur should worry the entire year [that he will be punished]. However, if he survives the year, he is assured that he is deserving of the World to Come.

Rebbe Nachman bar Yitzchok(Yuma 88a) explained [why having a Yom Kippur emission could be  a sign of blessing]. The entire world is being deprived and yet he experiences satiation. When Reb Dimi came he said, he will have a long life, thrive and have many children if he has a seminal emission – inadvertently. All his sins are forgiven – it is a favorable sign that indicates he will have many children and long life. He should worry the entire year –  that the emission is a sign that his fast is not accepted since he is experiencing satiation.

This is like a servant who pours a cup for his master who throws it in his face. However if he survives the year and doesn’t die – then he possesses good deeds that are protecting him and thus he is deserving of the World to Come. Because you should know that the entire world is deprived of sexual relations while he is sexually satisfied and is not sexual deprived though not through his intent. Nevertheless, if he survives the year that shows that he is completely righteous (tzadik gamur). His life is magnified – the one who has the emission on Yom Kippur is deserving of long life. He will multiply and become many – he will have children and grandchildren. As is alluded to in the Novee (Yeshaya 53:10): “you will see seed (seminal emission or children) and long life.”

Says the Mishna Berura (651.3) azoy: If he has a seminal emission, he should worry the whole year [for punishment]. Because perhaps his fasting was not accepted because G‑d is showing him that He doesn’t desire his sexual abstention. And said the Mogen Avraham (6:15:3): If he survives the whole year, he is assured that he will get the World to Come. His survival for a year after a seminal emission on Yom Kippur indicates that he apparently is a tzadik and therefore did not need to afflict himself on Yom Kippur.

And the real bottom line is more good news: Except for the laws of the Nida, none of the laws are relevant today. Seemingly without the Beis Hamikdash and without the ability to bring a korban, we all remain Tomei (impure) and can seemingly enjoy or get away with multiple emissions; accidental or not. Gishmak.


A gittin Shabbis and Chag kosher v’somayach wherever you find yourself this coming Yom Tov.

The Heylige Oisvorfer Ruv

Yitz Grossman


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