Torah Weekly

For the week ending 13 April 2024 / 5 Nissan 5784

Parshat Tazria

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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The Torah commands a woman to bring a korban after the birth of a child. A son is to be circumcised on the eighth day of his life. The Torah introduces the phenomenon of tzara'at (often mistranslated as leprosy) — a miraculous affliction that attacks people, clothing and buildings to awaken a person to spiritual failures. A kohen must be consulted to determine whether a particular mark is tzara'at or not. The kohen isolates the sufferer for a week. If the malady remains unchanged, confinement continues for a second week, after which the kohen decides the person's status. The Torah describes the different forms of tzara'at. One whose tzara'at is confirmed wears torn clothing, does not cut his hair, and must alert others that he is ritually impure. He may not have normal contact with people. The phenomenon of tzara'at on clothing is described in detail.


An Eternal Covenant

“And on the eighth day, the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised…” (12:3)

Saturday morning, 8 o’clock. The rest of the world is making its way to work through a gray London morning, but at a synagogue in an up-market part of North-West London, men in suits and ladies in hats are turning up to Synagogue Shabbat services. The people range from the fully Shabbat observant, to those whose connection to Judaism is a distant childhood memory.

And without realizing it, they are attesting to the accuracy of our Sages’ words, "Every mitzvah for which the Jewish People have sacrificed their lives during periods of state persecution – including circumcision – is still observed by them." Also, "Every mitzvah that the Jews accepted upon themselves with joy, such as circumcision, endures." Although to the Western secular mind, brit milah may seem like mutilation, it endures when many other mitzvahs have fallen by the wayside.

After a boy has been brought into the covenant of Avraham Avinu, of Abraham, we bless him and say, “In the same way that he has entered into the brit, so should he enter into Torah, and to chupa, to marriage and good deeds!” This blessing is unique. At no other beginning in the life of a Jew do we give such a blessing. We don’t say when a boy puts on tefillin for the first time, “Just as you have put on tefillin, may you enter marriage and good deeds.” Why is brit milah unique?

Because it is indelible and cannot be removed. Similarly, we bless the child that his attachment to Torah, to his wife and to good deeds should be an inextricable part of him.

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