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Tazria - M’tzora

Tazria - M’tzora

Bearing Seed / A Leper

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

The Eternal One spoke to Moses, saying: "This shall be the ritual for a leper at the time of being purified ." - Leviticus 14:1-2

  • 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)
  • Priestly rituals to cure tzara-at when it afflicts humans are described. (14:1-32)
  • Rituals to rid dwelling places of tzara-at are presented. (14:33-57)
  • The parashah denotes male impurities resulting from a penile discharge or seminal emission. (15:1-18)
  • The parashah concludes with accounts of female impurities caused by a discharge of blood. (15:19-33)

When do we read Tazria - M’tzora?

2017 Apr 29 /3 Iyyar, 5777


  • By Richard N. Levy

    The first chapter of this double portion, chapter 12 of Leviticus, is perplexing. It seems to stand by itself. Its topic, the condition of a woman who has given birth, does not seem to relate to last week's portion, dealing with permitted and prohibited foodstuffs, and it does not seem to relate to the chapters that follow it, which speak about that peculiar skin eruption called tzaraat. But by placing it as a kind of preface to the chapters on skin eruptions, the Rabbis who arranged the Torah portions seem to be arguing that it does relate to irruptions: it speaks about a natural eruption through the skin—the birth of a baby, compared to an "unnatural," or at least undesired, eruption: the oozing out of fluids. Tzaraat is a substance that is supposed to remain inside the body; it is "unnatural" when it flows out. A baby, on the other hand, is supposed to emerge from the body when its time is ripe.

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