Tazria: Finding the Blessing in It

By Rabbi Thomas Louchheim

Saturday, April 13, 2013

27th Torah portion, 4th in Leviticus

Tazria-Metzora 12:1-15:33 (157 verses)

18th Day in the counting of the Omer



Tazria: God describes the rituals of purification for a woman after childbirth. God sets forth the methods of diagnosing and treating tzara’at, a skin disease, inaccurately understood to be leprosy.

            Metzora: Priestly rituals to cure tzara’at when it afflicts humans are described. Rituals to rid homes of tzara’at are presented. The portion concludes with descriptions of male and female impurities.


            In parashat Metzorah a strange revelation is given to the Israelites: “When you enter the land of Canaan that I give you as a possession . . . I [will] inflict an eruptive plague upon a house in the land you possess” (14:34). The houses the Israelites come to occupy will be plagued with tzara’at. This seems more of a curse than a blessing. One would think the Israelites might desire to avoid arriving there altogether with this kind of promise. The Midrash provides another view:

When the Canaanites heard that the Israelites were approaching, they hid their valuables in the houses. God said: ‘I promised their forefathers that I would bring their children into a land full of all that is good,’ as it is said, And houses full of all good things (Deut. 6:10-11). What did God do? – brought plagues on one of the houses so that when he [the Israelite] would pull down the house [to rebuild it for himself], he would find treasure. [1]

Therefore, the promise of houses full of tzara’at turns out to be a blessing, for in the destruction of the houses, the people find riches to build more beautiful homes.The lesson gained from this Midrash is that material disadvantage is not necessarily a negative, and appearance is not necessarily reality. Those we view as successful behind big homes, fast cars and lavish lifestyle, may in fact be living behind a façade of an actual material struggle. And those who are living within their means perhaps are celebrating greater riches.       


1. In your struggles do you now see what is most important in your life?

2. How often in your life has something painful or hard to endure, initially seen as a curse, turned out in the long run to be a blessing?

3. Do we look to God to provide us with blessings or do we look to ourselves to create them out of that which God has given us?


It is interesting to think that perhaps all tzara’at is a hidden resource. We need only destroy our old shells to discover . . .

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[1] Leviticus Rabba 17:6