Friday, April 16, 2010

Rebirth!

There's a great sicha all about Tzara'as in chelek chof beis. Here are some of the points. It's too late at night for me to put it all together correctly, so take it or leave it.

The Rebbe asks: Why are these two parshios called Tazria and Metzorah? If you look at the content of the parsha, and look at what the name implies, you will actually see that the names have opposite meanings from their parshas! Tazria speaks all about a person getting Tzara'as. Metzorah mainly speaks about how a person becomes Tahor again.
So what do the words Tazria and Metzorah mean? Tazria in the context of the posuk refers to fertilization and childbirth. However, the parsha Tazria is all about disease and death (a leper is considered like a dead body, in halacha). Metzorah is the correct term to describe a leper and disease, but its parsha speaks instead about how the person becomes Tahor again, comes back from his ex-communication, and is rehabilitated and reborn as a new person. That sounds much more like the word Tazria which denotes life and birth!!???

Good questions, right?
The Rebbe explains that Tzara'as was not just a form of punishment. What is punishment, really? In Torah, the purpose of punishments is not just for G-d to take vengeance on us. Rather, any punishment meted out is in fact for a person's benefit, to help him reconnect with G-d. We see this clearly with Tzara'as. He wasn't affected first. Instead, his house, then his furniture, and then his clothes would get leprosy. These were all helpful warning signs for him to reevaluate his way of life and choices about speaking evil. Finally, if he did not yet repent, he was sent outside of the camp, to be secluded, not as a punishment and 'time out', but to really reflect on his past and be prepared to enter society a new person.
The Rebbe brings the Alter Rebbe's famous explanation about Tzara'as.
The Alter Rebbe asks a question in Likkutei Torah: If the term 'Adam' when referring to man is a very high level (as opposed to 'Ish' or 'Gever' for example), than how could it be that an 'Adam' could get tzara'as, as the posuk says?
The answer is that Tzara'as is actually a wonderful thing, and only happens to someone on an outstanding level of his service to G-d. The blemishes on his body represent all the bad in him. So tzara'as is showing him that he is near perfect. The only bad he has left to be eradicated is on the very outer extremes of his body and clothes, spiritually speaking.

I have to get ready for Shabbos, but basically, the point of the name of the Parsha as Tazria meaning 'new life' is to teach us this very lesson from Tzara'as: that no punishment in Torah is just a form of vengeance, rather every Onesh is really to help the sinner reaffirm his connection to G-d, and to be healed from his sickness (leprosy) and bad behavior.
The next parsha is Metzora, to teach us that the entire healing process which is explained in the parsha, is not the only thing which makes the leper Tahor again. The very fact that he had Tzara'as in the first place, and was a Metzora, was part of the healing, as understood from the above-mentioned piece from the Alter Rebbe, along with the Rebbe's explanations.

Anyway, I suggest you all learn it.
Have a great shabbos.