Tazria-Messora (Tahor) – Perasha Synopsis

Perashat Tazria discusses the laws of different forms of “spiritual impurity” brought upon by physical changes.  If a woman gives birth to a male or a female child, she enters into a period of “impurity” of different determination. Following the completion of this period the new mother begins the process of “cleansing”. At the conclusion of this process she brings a “sin offering” that represents atonement for the most probable future violation of a promise made while in pain from giving birth – not to ever have children again.

The perasha continues on to describe a physical skin affliction known as Sara’at translated loosely as Leprosy that is a manifestation of a spiritual malaise. This is believed to be a wake up call to the malefactor to mend his ways and abstain from slander and gossip. Whether the disease manifest itself on the skin, in the hair or on the beard, the Kohen must check it, isolate it and heal it according to specifications. If it is a boil whether on the skin, hair or beard it too must be identified, isolated and healed by the Kohen according to specifications. The same procedure applies to “leprosy” of the garments.

Perashat Messora‘ continues to address the affliction of Sara’at, loosely translated as the skin malady leprosy. The Torah outlines in detail the process of purification for the Messora. Our sages tell us that a person afflicted with Saraat has suffered this disease because he has spoken badly about others, and has expressed his superiority and arrogance. This person must be separated from the rest of Bene Yisrael, and undergo a purification process in order to be readmitted back into the camp.

There are several phases to the purification process, and the goal is to ultimately have the person realize his improper and arrogant behavior. The Torah realizes that both the fortunate and the poor are capable of this sin and there are sin offerings for the Messora of all socioeconomic levels.  Saraat not only affects individuals, but can be diagnosed in one’s home. The Torah describes how the Kohen identifies Saraat in a home, and what the subsequent method of purification is.

In continuing with the theme of “contamination-impurity” and purification, the Perasha describes different situations from both men and women which might be considered “impure”. These situations are addressed by the “Laws of Family Purity” that are well observed today. The source of these laws stems from this week’s Perasha.

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