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

Tazria 2014 – Tzora’as: Everything You Don’t Want To Know

quote4We begin with a few plugs for friends and followers. Ershtens, more than 26 years ago, on perhaps the coldest and windiest days the Oisvorfer can recall, the shabbis of his aufruf, he was accompanied to shul by his chaver RiviSchwebel- he, blessed by the RBSO with a magnificently beautiful shtima (voice) – who davened for the Omud that morning for all to enjoy. So happens that one of his children, Eli, has a voice not unlike his father’s. Eli put out a new single which can be heard here and the album is soon to follow.
Check it out here – www.elischwebel.com


Elsewhere, another oisvorf follower, Yehuda Honig, who has an incredible knack for flying all over the world and staying in the finest hotels without paying one red cent, is now sharing his travel tips on Dealspin. Check it out here   http://9nl.be/YitzGrossman.  Yehuda is likely collecting points with every click. Nu, some life skills he did acquire in yeshiva.


On the simcha and mazel tov front, it’s been quite the week, here we go.


Mazel tov to Fay Stern and family whose daughter Tziril married Yaacov Schuss. It was a pleasure to attend and dance at this simcha. We have been friends nearly 44 years.


Mazel tov to Ariella and Zachary Grossman, the Oisvorfer’s son and daughter in-law who became Aunt and Uncle last night when Jen and Sam Kollander became parents for the first time to a baby girl.  Mazel Tov to the new parents; may they have much nachas from this arrival and from many to follow.


Mazel tov to our machutunim Karen and Allen Perl who became grandparents for the very first time; may they have many more.

Mazel tov to our friends and machatunim Faye and Dr. Steven Kollander (oral surgeon par excellence), find him here: http://ridgewood-queens-oralsurgery.com/ whose son Sam is now the proud father of a baby girl, May they continue to make and share in many more simachot.


Mazel tov to our cousin Josh Rozenberg and his wife Elise on the birth of a baby boy and to his parents, also our cousins, Dr. Suzanne Rozenberg – an excellent dermatologist (mention the Oisvorfer for a bump up in price) and to her husband Dr. Barry Rozenberg (not a real doctor, only a Dentist).


A few weeks back, their daughter Beka became a kalla and will marry Jordan Goldschmidt on July 13th: all are invited.


Raboyseyee and Raboyseyettes:


Tzora’as: everything you don’t want to know

Wake up!!  We’re just about done with korbonois and Sefer Vayikra is about to get very interesting and exciting.  The hot topics which include sexual activity before and after a baby is born, begin this week. Want to know how to conceive a boy or a girl? Forget Masters & Johnson and other trickery: learn the heylige Toirah which tells of foolproof methods in gender selection. Parshas Tazria, which we have the great pleasure of hearing this coming shabbis, discusses what happens after pleasure and sex: kinderlach! It also contains interesting laws about how long a woman remains impure following childbirth, the purification process and the korban (sacrifice) she needs to bring. What great sin she committed that warrants a korban, ver veyst but she is seemingly guilty of a few offenses.  The commandment to perform a bris on day eight, even on the heylige shabbis, as well as the myriad laws of tzora’as (leprosy) are all covered in the parsha and were also thoroughly reviewed by the Oisvorfer in previous editions of this parsha review. Find them all at www.oisvorfer.com.  Because the Oisvorfer had such a busy week attending simchas and because he was occupied disseminating interesting materials in the great debate over national service in the Israeli army, we will review one thought from prior years and introduce brand new material on a person we will call a Metzoira, a person afflicted with Tzora’as. Next week we’ll explore the Zav and Zava (those with accidental discharges). Of course, you’ll all be paying close attention, chazerim that you are.  Says the heylige Toirah azoy:


Speak to the children of Israel, saying: If a woman conceives and gives birth to a male, she shall be unclean for seven days; as [in] the days of her menstrual flow, she shall be unclean. ב. דַּבֵּר אֶל בְּנֵייִשְׂרָאֵללֵאמֹראִשָּׁה כִּי תַזְרִיעַ וְיָלְדָהזָכָרוְטָמְאָה שִׁבְעַתיָמִים כִּימֵינִדַּת דְּוֹתָהּ תִּטְמָא:


Nu, as you can only imagine, these opening pisukim about seeding, conception and childbirth and the ensuing impurity of the child-bearing mother, didn’t go unnoticed and there’s quite a bit of commentary in the heylige Gemora and medrish. Let’s check out one of each.


Says the heylige Gemora (Nida 31a): If the woman gives seed first, she gives birth to a male; if the man gives seed first, she gives birth to a female. Nu, could it be any clearer?  To chap all this, we must think in terms of farming. First the field is to be thoroughly plowed, if you chap, and then seeded. Seemingly the seeding order is what determines the sex of child and because men traditionally are so magnanimous and love giving seed, typically before the women, many more girls are born than are boys. Are you following all this? In plain English: Because you chazerim have no control over yourselves and because you combine plowing and seeding into one act and don’t allow your partners to seed first, we taka have so many more girls than boys and of course the shidduch crisis. Case closed, no need for further discussion or scientific facts: we don’t argue with the heylige Gemora, chasv’sholom.


Nu, since we’re tif (deep) into the woman, avada by that we mean,  thesugya (topic) of childbirth, let’s taka learn one more halocho about post-delivery activities (of a sexual nature). See possik 4 below for boy delivery status and then possik 5 for the mother’s status following the birth of a girl. Says the heylige Toirah azoy:


4. And for thirty three days, she shall remain in the blood of purity; she shall not touch anything holy, nor may she enter the Sanctuary, until the days of her purification have been completed. ד. וּשְׁלֹשִׁיםיוֹםוּשְׁלֹשֶׁת יָמִים תֵּשֵׁב בִּדְמֵיטָהֳרָה בְּכָלקֹדֶשׁ לֹאתִגָּע וְאֶלהַמִּקְדָּשׁ לֹאתָבֹאעַדמְלֹאתיְמֵיטָהֳרָהּ:
5. And if she gives birth to a female, she shall be unclean for two weeks, like her menstruation [period]. And for sixty six days, she shall remain in the blood of purity. ה. וְאִםנְקֵבָהתֵלֵדוְטָמְאָה שְׁבֻעַיִם כְּנִדָּתָהּ וְשִׁשִּׁיםיוֹםוְשֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים תֵּשֵׁב עַל דְּמֵיטָהֳרָה:


Said The Chizkuni azoy: A woman has inside of her [uterus] seven chambers, three on the right side and three on the left side, and one in the center. When the seed enters on the right side, she will give birth to a male child; if the seed enters on the left side she’ll give birth to a female child. And if the seed enters at the center, she will give birth to a tumtum (child with ambiguous genitalia) or an androgynous child.  Then he gives a primer on gender selection: Follow this if you have too many of any one gender (or just for fun).


When the woman rests, after intercourse, on her right side, the seed will enter the chambers on the right side, and she will have a boy…ober (but) if she rests on her left side, the seed will enter on the left and she’ll have a girl. Interestingly, there is no mention of the man following intercourse. Taka why? Because the Chizkuni was a genius, a man ahead of his time. A man that chapped that after a man chaps, he’s off.  Sleeping, smoking, playing with his other device or gone mamish.  As proof of his scientific theory, he cites an intimate possik (verse) from ‘ShirHashirm, “His left arm is under my head and his right arm embraces me” (2:6).


While the heylige Gemorah (Kiddushin 19) cautions against interpreting Shir Ha-Shirim literally, this verse, which may be understood as an image of the two lovers engaged in a special moment of intimacy, is interpreted by the Chizkuni as a purposeful arrangement of bodies so that the woman would give birth to a male child! If the man’s left hand is under the woman’s head, and they are facing each other, then it must be that she is lying on her right side – the appropriate arrangement for having a boy. Is this p’shat? Ver veyst (who know)?


Grada today’s leading experts on the Uterus (including some of you) and medical halacha state that Chizkuni’s description of the anatomy of the female uterus, while taka common in Jewish exegesis in the middle ages, coincided with the prevalence of that anatomical view among medieval scientists. Ober: the so-called doctrine of the seven chambered uterus is a product of medieval imagination; in other words: nishtgeshtoigennishstgifloygin (a bunch of bs).


Today, scientists and later commentators no longer believe in the doctrine of the seven-chambered uterus; have you seen seven on anyone? Is looking for even one chamber permitted? Ver vesyt! Some say that looking is altogether verboten and maybe even dangerous to one’s health. Ober, once upon a time, there was a rich body of brilliant Toirah interpretation that drew on this idea. The good news is that most males are famers and explorers;  as long as they get to plow and seed,  they are tzifridin (satisfied) with even one chamber. Ok, veyter.


The majority of the parsha deals with the physio-spiritual plague of tzora’as. What the hec is Tzora’as? Seemingly it is a discoloration that appears in varying forms, on human skin, on hair, clothing, and even on the walls of one’s home. It’s not a reward for being a good Jew, no surprise here. And how did it manifest? Seemingly, back when tzora’as was in vogue, it presented as an affliction of the skin, on a wound, or an affliction of the beard or scalp.  Tzora’as is usually translated as leprosy.


Ober, it stands to reason that tzora’as was a different ailment than leprosy as we know it today.  Also, it seems that tzora’as did not entail great suffering and pain on the part of the sick person.  It was merely epes a form of rash broken out on the body’s skin, but instead of going to a doctor, the sick person went to his local koihen (priest). Seemingly, the koihen, when not on duty in the BesiHamkidash, or busy eating the leftover korbonois (sacrifices), moonlighted as a dermatologist and had several options before declaring the person a metzoira (tzora’as afflicted). The Koihen has some wide discretion about whom to declare and when. We call these loopholes which the koihen could use to avoid declaring someone a Metzoira (carrier) if he was properly motivated and so inclined. That for another day. Like doctor shopping, it appears that koihen shopping was quite important.


We will soon learn that most commentators agree that to get Tzora’as, one typically used his mouth incorrectly. One can get tzora’as from oral activity? Sadly, most you can relate to this in some manner, if you chap.

Says the heylige Gemora (Eiruchin 16a) azoy: Tzora’as comes for seven aveiros (sins.) Asks the Marhsho azoy: how can all these seven aveiros of varying severity receive the exact same punishment?  Ober he answers his own question azoy:  there are seven kinds of tzora’as; each is fitting for one of the seven aveiros. To see the list of aveiros and their corresponding Tzora’as paybacks, open the heylige Gemora and learn; it won’t kill you. You might even find yourself right there in the Gemora.

In any event, once declared to have tzora’as, the afflicted individual would endure a complicated process of purification in order to rejoin the community. Seemingly, he is sent out of the camp as a punishment because “he separated friends and families through his words, and deserves to be separated from his community.”


Says the heylige Gemora (Ayrachin 16b) azoy:tzora’as is a divine punishment for the sins of slander and gossip.  Efsher you’re klerring azoy: ok- we can accept that:  Ober if tzora’as is taka a punishment for slander, loshoin horo and gossip, wouldn’t you expect that every person we know and come into contact with, every person in the gantzevelt (entire world) would be walking around with tzora’as somewhere on their skin, hair clothing? And if not, efsher somewhere on their body and of course their houses. Taka it’s an excellent kasha and the answer is Raboyseyee that nowadays, giloibt der abishter (thank the RBSO), there taka is no more tzora’as. Coast clear and feel free to go about your slanderous activities.


And said the Kuzari azoy: tzora’as was found only when the Yiddin were on a high spiritual level, on their best behavior and when the Divine Presence dwelt among them, in their bodies, clothes, and houses. Mamish like the soul in a body.  When did that happen and for how long, ver veyst. In the same way that when the soul leaves the body, the body’s form changes.  So too according to the Kuzari, when the Divine Presence leaves because of a person’s sins, there is a change in the body, clothing, or houses.


Says the heylige Toirah (Vayikra 13:1-2)  azoy”……Odom-Ki-Yihiyeh-B’Oir-Bisoroi (the RBSO spoke to Moishe and Aharoin saying, “When a man (Odom) will have a rising in his flesh . . . ” And said the Alshich: the entire parsha of tzora’as is introduced with the word “Odom” (a person).  The word “Odom” always denotes a person of stature and importance; not just any regular person.  Tzora’as does not affect just anyone, but only people on the correct level.  And what does all that mean? Nu, our wise sages, Chazal, tell us that the primary cause of tzora’as is the sin of slander. If a person sullied himself with the sin of slander, the person’s inherent holiness would push the impurity gained through this sin, out of his body, and it would manifest itself as tzora’as.  Ober there is great news in this pshat: In our days, people are avada not on this level, nor on any level but at the lowest levels where they are seemingly immune from tzora’as. Gishmak!


And listen to this mamish gishmakepshat. There are four words used in Tanach to classify man; Odom, Ish, Gever, and Enosh.  Odom is the word used for the highest caliber of mankind.  Interestingly, when talking about tzora’as, a terrible spiritual disease, the heylige Toirah, as quoted above, begins with the word Odom.  “Odom-Ki-Yihiyeh-B’Oir-Bisoroi.” Shouldn’t a person with this awful disease be labeled with a lesser title?

Ober said Rav Mordechai Yosef MiIzhbetza azoy: one of the reasons for Tzora’as is taka loshoin horo.  The heylige Toirah is telling us that, unfortunately, this disease of badmouthing people, idle gossip and plain loshoinhoro is very prevalent among the highest echelons of society. Even those we call men, even those with beards!  Their lofty status notwithstanding, they still manage to gossip  about others.  The bottom line: Even an otherwise Odom (a real man) can get tzora’as.

On the other hand, said RavItzele Volozhin azoy: we find five kinds of tzora’as in our parsha. It could affect skin, clothing, head, beard, and even the house. Tzora’as is an exterior sign of internal corruption.  Each one of these nega’im (afflictions) correspond to a certain tumah within the person. Check off the one’s that resemble you most.

1.  Skin tzora’as shows up because of a constant craving by the person to satisfy his bodily desires with food and other physical pleasures, if you chap.
2.  A clothing nega (affliction) is an indication of the pursuit of material items, whether new clothing or anything else.  Mistama this one was reserved for women and a few metrosexuals.


3.  Bad character, corrupt ideology, and haughtiness are plagues of the mind, and show up as a nega on the head.
4.  Sins of the mouth like lashon horo and rechilus manifest themselves as tzora’as on the beard. This was seemingly the most popular form.
5.  The chase after wealth such as real estate, results in nega’im on one’s house.

In other words; everything is dealt with Mida-Kneged-Mida (an eye for an eye). Therefore, to get cured, once afflicted, the metzoira (carrier) was instructed to seek out his local Koihen (priest) who was considered to be an ‘ish-tzadik-v’Tohoir (a righteous and holy person).  This holy person would take a deep look at the nega and understand its source.  He would then prescribe the correct cure for the sinner and help him cleanse his insides as a result of the treatment to the outside.


And says Rashi and also the Ramban azoy: the first form of tzora’as does not begin on the person. The RBSO, in his magnificence and mercy, sends out warning shots.  At first, they hit inanimate objects — one’s possessions. The discoloration first appears on the walls of a home, forcing the affected stones to be removed and destroyed. If the initial wake-up-callfails, the badmouthing and gossiping go on unabated, the clothing is next to be affected. If that fails, eventually the flesh is transformed and white lesions appear, forcing the afflicted to leave the machana (Jewish camp) until the plague subsides and the Koihen declares him acceptable to return.


It would appear then that tzora’as is a merciful early warning system employed by the RBSO. The message might be that the path the slanderer is on,  is dangerous and leading  in a wrong  spiritually  direction. Physical danger can only follow in its wake. It is a way of providing a little extra wake-up time before the true consequences of the person’s spiritual decline become inevitable and visible.


And here then the pshat of the week, shabbis tish worthy; pay attention.Tzora’as, on a personal level, has a few forms and intensities. So do ‘tzoros’ – ‘troubles,’ and though they are spelled a little differently, they function in pretty much the same way as an early warning system to help us realize that we are on the wrong path and must quickly reverse the trend in a better and healthier direction  Either we do it, or the RBSO does it Himself. Yikes.


On the other hand, says Rashi, that the first stage of tzora’as — the home — is actually a blessing in disguise. Tzora’as on a home can indeed bring fortune to the affected. Does one get rewarded for loshoin horo? Maybe they do! And efsher you recall that when the Yiddin were approaching the promised land, the inhabitants, (the Canani, Chiti, Yivuci and a few others), figuring they would one day return and re-conquer, hid all their gold and silver inside the walls of their homes. When one dislodged the afflicted stones of his home he would find the hidden treasures that were left by the fleeing goyim. And efsher you’re wondering how is this at all possible? Is loshoin horo good at times? What spiritual import is gained from the materialistic discovery? Ver veyst! Ober let’s remember that these are all medroshim; they don’t necessarily have to be true, they do however have to sound plausible and shabbis tish worthy.


And the bottom line: Nowadays we don’t see anyone walking around with Tzora’as even though loshoin horois likely at an all-time high and has not gone out of fashion.  Said the ChofetzChaim (ShaarHaZechira 6) azoy: in our times, since there is no Koihen or BeisHaMikdash, if a person getstzora’as,he remainsTamei his whole life.And  ifone dies before repenting, his soul  will be rejected and locked  out of Gan Eden due to his arrival in an impure state.

And we close with this: Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.


A gitten Shabbis


Yitz Grossman

The Oisvorfer Ruv

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