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

Synopsis:

 

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.

Commentary:

            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.       

Questions:

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?

Focus:

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