Tazria 5768-2008

"The Odd Ritual Practices of the Metzorah!"

In parashat Tazria we are taught that the metzorah, the person who is afflicted with the disease tzah'ra'aht for speaking lashon hara, must rend his clothes. He is also forbidden to cut his hair, must cover his mouth and head, and needs to call out publicly: "Contaminated, contaminated!" In addition, he is isolated from the rest of the community. What are the meanings of these rituals and behaviors, and what impact are they expected to have on gossipers and slanderers?

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Tazria 5763-2003

"Tzaraat--The Spiritual Dermatological Disease"

According to Jewish tradition, the primary cause of the affliction tzaraat is lashon hara, speaking evil or slanderously of others. In ancient times, when one would speak evil of another person, a rash or infection would appear on the belongings or on the body of the perpetrator. On the surface, the assertion that one can develop a hideous skin rash from speaking evil seems quite preposterous, yet, there are many precedents for such things in life, science, and medicine.

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