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Parashat Tazria opens continuing the discussion on ritual impurity and purity. The Torah speaks of women who give birth, whether a male or female child, undergo a process of purification following having given birth. We also read about Tzaraat (צָרָעַת), which is often mistranslated as “leprosy.” Tzaraat is a supernatural plague which also may afflict garments and even the home. The Torah provides various signs for the kohen (priest) to be able to judge whether the afflicted person, material, or home is to be pronounced tamei (impure) or tahor (pure). The Torah says, 13:3 ‘The priest shall look at the mark on the skin of the body, and if the hair in the infection has turned white and the infection appears to be deeper than the skin of his body, it is an infection of tzaraat; when the priest has looked at him, he shall pronounce him unclean. (NASB) These instructions help the kohen to determine whether this is simply a surface affliction as opposed to something that goes much deeper. This form of affliction may only be healed with the help of the Lord God of Israel. The way the supernatural affliction of Tzaraat is described to us, these scriptures direct us to consider the deeper spiritual insights in the affliction of the body to the sinfulness of the soul. When considering the connection between the body and the soul, the rabbis in the Talmud Bavli Berekhot 5A and 5B speak of the love of God in relation to affliction and this week’s Torah portion on Tzaraat. Based upon the items that may be afflicted with Tzaraat (Person, Place, or Thing) in the different afflictions of the skin, the common denominator is that there are different shades of white for distinguishing one’s affliction. According to the Talmud Bavli Berekhot 5, the only skin afflictions that may be viewed as God’s reminder to improve our lifestyle are the four kinds that are mentioned here in Parashat Tazria. Sforno on Vayikra / Leviticus 13:2 Part 2 states, “While they are not classified as afflictions revealing G’d’s love for the person thus afflicted, they are however, described as מזבח כפרה, as “an altar of atonement” serving as a stepping stone to atonement for the character weakness that the afflicted person has to overcome. G’d does not employ any other medically well known skin diseases as His instrument to call us to order for the various sins committed.” The reason these things are considered supernatural afflictions is because…

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