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Bearing Seed

The Eternal One spoke to Moses, saying: "Speak to the Israelite people thus: When a woman at childbirth bears a male, she shall be impure seven days; she shall be impure as at the time of her condition of menstrual separation." - Leviticus 12:1-2

  • God describes the rituals of purification for a woman after childbirth. (12:1-8)
  • God sets forth the methods for diagnosing and treating a variety of skin diseases, including tzara-at (a leprous affection), as well as those for purifying clothing. (13:1-59)

When do we read Tazria?

2018 Apr 21 /6 Iyyar, 5778


  • By Elyse Goldstein

    In his book The Illness Narratives: Suffering, Healing, and the Human Condition,1 Dr. Arthur Kleinman makes an important distinction between illness and disease. He writes:

    Illness refers to how the sick person and the members of the family or wider social network perceive, live with, and respond to symptoms and disability. . . . Disease, however, is what the practitioner creates in the recasting of illness in terms of theories of disorder.

    We see this distinction between illness and disease clearly in Parashat Tazria in the laws concerning tzaraat,— a skin ailment sometimes translated as "leprosy," its diagnosis, and the treatment of those afflicted with it.

    The priests are practitioners. They want to know exactly what disease this person with a skin rash has, what are its symptoms, and — most important — what the person did to "get" the disease. In Leviticus 13:2-3... Continue Reading

  • Torah for Tots

    The parashah (section) Tazria/M'tzora (these two portions are read together many years) describes a series of detailed rituals that must be undertaken by the priests as part of a process for ritual cleans

  • Torah for Tweens

    This week's reading combines two Torah portions, Tazria and M'tzoraTazria begins with a discussion of defilement and purification following childbirth, and continues with a discussion of the skin disease, tzara-at, a subject continued in Parashat M'tzoraTzara-at is customarily translated as "leprosy," but we will refer to it in the original Hebrew, so as to distinguish tzara-at from Hansen's Disease, popularly called "leprosy" today. Tzara-at denotes a variety of skin rashes and blemishes, but the Torah applies the term to clothing and houses as well, where it may have meant various molds or mildews that could discolor surfaces of fabric or stone.

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