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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Tazria-Metzora

Parshat Tazria-Metzora

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter    Print Version

Parashat Tazria-Metzora
6th of Iyar, 5778 | April 21, 2018

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Mrs. Devorah Stieglitz
The Shabbat Walk

והיה בעור בשרו לנגע צרעת

And it will become a tzaraat affliction on the skin of his flesh (Vayikra 13:2)

Maya, born in Russia and raised by her Communist parents, was unfortunately never told that she was Jewish. Being taken to Church by her father and mother, she grew up knowing a life fairly distant from Judaism. However, as Maya turned thirteen and the Iron Curtain fell, her parents decided to move to America. Settling in Flatbush, a community heavily made up of Orthodox Jews, her parents looked to receive some financial support. Life was difficult and the family was in search of community assistance.

After looking into the matter, they were told that they would in fact be entitled to such financial aid with one condition: they send their daughter to a Jewish school. Greatly in need of establishing themselves and being provided such amenities, the parents agreed to send Maya to the Bais Yaakov of Flatbush.

As Maya began learning about Yiddishkeit, she instantly gravitated towards it. Tremendously inspired and driven to learn more and do more, Maya grew significantly in her knowledge of Torah and observance of mitzvot. Being given modest clothing from her friends, she soon looked like any other religious girl. Pleased with her own spiritual growth, Maya was quite content with her life situation. But her parents were not.

Now fourteen years old and earnestly learning about Judaism, her parents could no longer handle it. Pressuring her to refrain from immersing herself in Judaism, they offered her an ultimatum: lighten up on her commitment to Judaism or leave the house. Daily fights and tantrums embittered the lives of her parents and by now Maya was not eating at home. And so, with the food not up to any kosher standard and constant pandemonium present in the house, Maya was asked to leave for good. And she did.

One Shabbat afternoon, as Maya was staying at a friend’s house, she decided she would perform an act of chesed and visit an elderly woman. As she happily began walking down the street in Flatbush, however, a nearby driver lost control of his car and hit a light pole. Colliding head on with the light pole, the impact caused the pole to come crashing down. But it didn’t land simply on the ground; it took Maya down with it and landed on her arm.

Now stuck underneath a gigantic light pole, Maya was in excruciating pain. Hatzalah immediately rushed to the scene and began tending to Maya. Doing their utmost to lift the pole off her arm and salvage her arm’s maneuverability, it was too late. The pole was heavily lying on her arm and crushing it. And so, the final decision was made to amputate her arm. Otherwise, concluded the Hatzalah members, her life was endangered.

Waking up hours later in the hospital, Maya was discernibly groggy. Feeling as if her arm was still there, she internally sensed that she was moving something. However, in reality, that was not the case.

As she awoke and remained motionless in bed, her father stood in front of her. And then he began to yell. “This is the G-d you believe in! You fight with us, leave the house, keep Shabbat, and this is what He does to you? How do you understand this? Why is G-d doing this to you?”

Hearing such roaring words nearly moments after she opened her eyes, Maya was traumatized yet poised. She replied to her father, “Papa, if I would understand everything Hashem does to me in my life, then I would be Him. The fact however is that I don’t always understand what He does, and that goes to show me just how perfect He is.” Responding with such powerful yet honest words as a mere fourteen year old, Maya understood that this event in her life was somehow for her good. It was what G-d wanted and she was going to accept it.

Years later, Maya was now looking to get married. Going out with one boy after the next, the fact that she had a plastic arm did not bode too well for her. Although she was a sweet girl with a vibrant personality, finding her bashert was an elongated process. Finally, however, she made a decision which was the beginning of a life-changing process. Contacting the Hatzalah member who had years earlier helped save her life, she began to live with the family. Becoming a sister to the other girls in the family and herself a daughter to the husband and wife, Maya slowly but surely began to feel that she had a home and support system. All that she now awaited was to build a home of her own with a family.

And then came the fateful day. As the Hatzalah member who had once saved her life was out and about one day, he was introduced to a brilliant young man. Talking for a while with him, he began to sense that here was a prospective match for Maya. And indeed, after meeting Maya and getting to know each other, they planned on getting married.

Today, Maya happily lives with her husband and family in Israel. If not for that one Shabbat afternoon when that life-altering incident occurred, perhaps today she would be in a very different place. But now, after years of spiritual growth coupled with hardships and misfortunes, Maya stands as a proud religious woman raising beautiful Jewish children.

While Maya could have given up and buckled under pressure many times throughout her upward climb in Judaism, she remained steadfast in her dedication through and through. Notwithstanding the most debilitating of setbacks, she surged forward in life trusting that Hashem would take care of her every step along the way. And indeed, He did. The same lesson is to be learned from tzaraat. Those experiences in life viewed as an “affliction” are in fact to be taken as the most opportunistic times for growth. For Maya, that very sorrowful Shabbat afternoon became the beginning of a long journey that today has paid unbelievable dividends for her and her wonderful family.

Rabbi Avi Matmon
Celebrating Marriage

חתן נותנין לו כל שבעת ימי המשתה

The Kohen does not examine or declare tzaraat on a groom during his seven days of festive celebration (Moed Katan 7b)

In Parashat Tazria we read how one suspected of being stricken with the spiritual malady of tzaraat was required to leave the Jewish camp and remain quarantined until a week later when he would be further examined by the Kohen. In the event that he in fact possessed tzaraat, he remained isolated until it disappeared, at which point he would undergo a purification process as detailed in next week’s Parsha.

There was however an exception to this rule: a groom within seven days after marriage. While the determination that one possessed tzaraat needed to be pronounced by the Kohen, in the event that one was a chattan, the Kohen would simply avoid visiting him. In this way, the chattan’s condition would remain in abeyance until the completion of his seven days of festivities (Sheva Berachot) and only then would he be examined.

Dealing with a chattan in such a manner is particular intriguing. Being that an affliction of tzaraat bespeaks of negative behavior and is something which could hamper his future relationship, why would we let the newlyweds carry on with their celebration and married life before treating the issue? Why don’t we require that the chattan sit in isolation until he repents and improves his character flaws? What is so special about Sheva Berachot that pushes aside the normal procedure of investigating a potential metzora?

The concept of marriage, referred to as Nisuin, is multi-faceted. On the one hand, the word “Nisuin” stems from the word “Nasa,” meaning to carry. The essence of marriage is the carrying of responsibility toward the other spouse and the family. One must brunt the burdens and worries of his family and insure their well-being and stability. At the same time, Nisuin also relates to the word “Mas’eit,” a gift. Aside from being a tremendous responsibility, marriage is undoubtedly the greatest gift. It is a gift the husband gives the wife, the wife gives the husband and Hashem gives them both.

Additionally, the experience of marriage is transformative and uplifting. It is something which “Nasa’o,” elevates and raises the hearts of those involved to levels unable to be reached otherwise. And lastly, it invests the husband and wife with a pristine status, similar to Nesiim (princes), and forever catapults them to euphoric heights that only the institution of marriage can offer.

For this reason, we dance around the chattan and kallah in recognition of their new steps toward a life-changing endeavor. “We are behind you,” we tell them, “and will always be there to support you every step of the way.” Seeing such a magnificent display of love and warmth from so many of their friends and family boosts the confidence of the chattan and kallah and immeasurably enhances their joy.

Anti-social behavior is often exhibited when one is unhappy with themselves. Feeling underappreciated by society, one grows depressed and cowers in isolation. At times, such estranged feelings can even engender negative judgments of others. It is for this reason that at the very incipient stages of marriage we forego on isolating the afflicted chattan from his festivities and instead allow him to continue celebrating with friends and family. The special attention he receives during his Sheva Berachot uplifts his spirits and therapeutically supports any deflated feelings he may inwardly feel. It is thus hoped that the very presence of other people cheering him on and providing encouraging words will transform his behavior and change his personality. By making him feel important and empowering him with self-confidence, he will be spurred to improve any character flaws and mend his ways.

From the moment the chattan and kallah joyously walk back from the chuppah through the next seven days of Sheva Berachot, actions and words which express good-will are conveyed to them. They are made to feel valued and esteemed and be reminded of their wonderful life ahead filled with responsibility and contentment. Upon experiencing such a blissful occasion, a chattan is undeniably in a better position to perform teshuva.

Chazal therefore saw that the best antidote to remedying the chattan of his malaise is in fact having people surround him as opposed to sequestering him in seclusion. Such is the transformative effect of social support and the far-reaching impact exhilarating dancing and singing can have on another.

Mrs. Chaya Newman
The Renaissance Man

Both my side of the family as well as my husband’s side of the family include some very accomplished people. My half-brother is a lawyer, a pilot and an NFL official. He was accustomed to running up and down the football field and throwing flags and blowing whistles throughout the game whenever necessary.

As my daughter’s wedding approached, I told him that after the chuppah I would like him to put on his football gear and dance in front of my future son-in-law. As is customary at Jewish weddings, many people attempt to perform various entertaining and enjoyable short performances to rejoice before the chattan and kallah. Listening to me, my brother agreed he would do so. But that was not the only favor I would need to ask of him.

As the day of the wedding arrived, the chattan’s Rosh Yeshiva who was set to be the mesader kiddushin (officiate the wedding) was scheduled to arrive from Israel. Being that the family was preoccupied with the wedding preparations, no one was available to drive to the airport and pick him up. And so I called my brother.

As I requested of him to pick up the Rosh Yeshiva, to which he complied, my mind began to picture what it would be like having a lawyer/pilot/NFL official driving a reputable Rosh Yeshiva. What were they going to talk about for the entire car ride? They came from completely different backgrounds; they would have little to nothing in common. There will be utter silence for what will seem like a car ride lasting forever. Putting that thought aside for the moment, I told him to look for a man with a beard, black hat, black pants and white shirt. Baruch Hashem, he was able to locate the Rosh Yeshiva.

Later, as the wedding time was nearing closer, my brother arrived at the wedding hall. He said to me, “The Rosh Yeshiva is a fine man; we had such an interesting conversation.” When I heard those words, I let out a sigh of relief and smiled. I was thrilled that it worked out well. Not too long afterwards, the Rosh Yeshiva himself entered the hall as well. Walking up to me, he asked, “Are you Mrs. Newman?” Not sure if answering in the affirmative would be to my betterment or detriment, I hesitantly said, “Yes, that is me.” “Oh, Mrs. Newman! Your brother is a Renaissance man – a pilot, an NFL official and a lawyer! What an accomplished individual!” As he continued to praise my brother, I figured that the car ride went well.

After the chuppah reached its conclusion, the dancing was to begin in some time. While the chattan and his friends began dancing and enjoying themselves, out came my brother. He was dressed in full battle regalia. My son-in-law’s friends were all taken aback by the show of such a scene, agreeing that this was one of the greatest displays of someone getting dressed up at a wedding. But, as I knew, this was not my brother getting “dressed up;” it was who he really was.

As my brother entered the circle amongst all the men and danced, he soon pulled over the Rosh Yeshiva to dance with. But then something happened. As is often the case, the chattan and kallah usually drink some water every so often as they try to rest and catch their breath. But this time, unbeknownst to all those dancing around, some water had spilled on the floor.

With my brother and Rosh Yeshiva dancing with one another, it was not too long before the Rosh Yeshiva slipped and fell to the floor. As this scene unfolded, everyone was unsure what to do. The Rosh Yeshiva appeared to be fine, although he lied on the floor. But, with my brother acting as any typical NFL official does when a player falls to the floor after being tackled, my brother took out a flag and blew a whistle. It almost looked like he was officiating at a football game after an athlete had fallen to the ground.

And then the Rosh Yeshiva stood up. He himself took hold of the flag and began to twirl it and dance with my brother. It was a beautiful sight to see.

Ever since then, when the Rosh Yeshiva flies to America, he goes out of his way to call my brother and take him out to lunch. I never would have expected that an esteemed Rosh Yeshiva and my brother would become so close, but as Jewish brothers, they united.

While this Rosh Yeshiva and lawyer/pilot/football official may ostensibly seem like two very different people from very different backgrounds, the truth of the matter is that they are quite alike. Their clothing may bespeak differences, but their neshamot and endearing feelings for one another are that of brothers. The same is true of Klal Yisrael on the larger scale. No matter our outer externalities, we all share one common Father in Heaven and beautiful neshamot within. We must never jump to conclusions about one another, slander or speak negatively of them or view our differences as reasons for divisiveness. Indeed, joining together as brothers and sisters, we have more than enough reason to take hold of each other’s hands and dance late into the night.

A Short Message From
Dr. David Pelcovitz

The July 2014 Issue of Science Magazine revealed the results of a series of eleven studies involving people of all ages. Having them sit in a room all alone with no cell phone and just their thoughts, many of them began to feel agitated. Having mentioned that an electro-shock machine was available in the corner, and if they were bored, they could choose to receive a mildly painful shock, 62% of the men and 25% of the women did so. The implications of this research provide an insightful commentary into today’s day and age. People are more comfortable doing than being. And if there is nothing to do other than shock oneself, that may be the preferred choice to calmly relaxing and simply thinking about life.

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