Today is the 3rd of Iyar, 5773.
The parsha for this week is a double: Tazria and Metzorah. It is, for sure, the one haftorah all aspiring b’nai and bar mitzvah youth hope not to be assigned . There is nothing as universally feared by Hebrew school students like the idea of standing up before your congregation and asserting your adulthood while delivering a speech peppered with phrases such as menstruation, eruptive plagues, scabs, skin disease and, by far, the very worst biblical phrase, the awful, itch inducing euphamism “running issue”.
Yep, Tazaria and Metzorah are chock full of biblical hygiene tips and warnings, disguised as “statutes” (חֻקִּים, chukim) and /or “ordinances” (מִשְׁפָּטִים, mishpatim).
Tazria ( תַזְרִיעַ) is translated as “she conceives” and covers Leviticus 12:1-13:59. There is some debate as to the commandments in Tazria; Mainonides stated that there are 3 positive and 1 negative, (one including circumcision on the 8th day) while the Sefer ha-chunich finds there to be 5 that are positive and 2 that are negative. One commonality: they are all kinda gross.
Metzora’s ( tמְּצֹרָע) translation is a little less pleasant, meaning, in Hebrew, ” one being diseased”. It covers Leviticus 14:1- 15:33. Metzora contains 11 commandments, all positive, relating to observing purity laws.
Rest assured, there is hope in this week’s parsha! In fact, there is an ancient purification ritual explained in great deal that you can try. All you need is a pair of turtledoves, some hysop, an earthenware vessel, some scarlet thread, and ….
Let us know how it works for you. In the meantime, you can study Torah and see what is available over the counter.
Translations, via JTS:
Metzorah (torah portion) http://learn.jtsa.edu/content/translations/tazri-metzora/torah-portion/metzora
Commentary can be found at the following sources:
Rabbi Ted Falcon:http://www.rabbitedfalcon.com/weekly-focus/
Union of Reformed Judaism: http://www.reformjudaism.org/womens-sacrifice-women%E2%80%99s-tractate
And animated! G-dcast calls this week’s parsha Tazria, “possibly the grossest parsha in the entire Torah, full of scaly skin, sprouting sores and breakouts of Biblical proportions.” and advises that Metzora offers tips on staying disease-free. How can you not want to watch that?