Shabbat Nugget: Parashat Tazria

In this Torah portion, we read about a person who has been inflicted with a distinct form of leprosy called “Tzaraas”.  The Torah teaches us that this person has to go outside of the Jewish living quarters and remains in solitude until the leprosy is healed.

Our Sages teach us that this form of Leprosy was usually punishment for speaking ill about other people.  They bring two examples from the Torah for this, when Moses told G-d that he does not want to accept the mission of taking the Jews out of Egypt because the Jewish people would not believe that you sent me.  G-d told Moses to put his hands in his pockets. When Moses took his hands out of his pockets the verse states that his hand had leprosy that was as white as snow. Similarly, when Miriam spoke disparagingly about something that Moses had done, the verse tells us that “She contracted leprosy”.

However, this begs the question that we find in the Torah that many people spoke badly about others and quite a few against Moses, so why don’t we find that they received leprosy as well?

The commentaries answer that only very pious people received leprosy. The reason for this is that leprosy was a display of divine love since it brought to the person’s attention the need to change his ways. This was also the reason that the leper had to be isolated.  It is most difficult for a person to have honest introspection and change his ways when he is surrounded by the hustle and bustle of life. Therefore the Torah tells the leper: “Go out of the camp” where he can have the proper piece of mind necessary to examine his ways and by doing so G-d will heal him from his leprosy.


About Rabbi Pesach Scheiner

Rabbi Pesach Scheiner is the Rabbi of Boulder County Center for Judaism. In addition, he teaches extensively throughout Boulder County and is the author of "Finding the Joy in Everyday Living," a book of short chapters explaining the ways to access happiness through appreciation, gratitude, and a sense of purpose.

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