Seeds of Rebirth

“…If a woman conceives and gives birth…” – Vayikra 12:2

אִשָּׁה כִּי תַזְרִיעַ וְיָלְדָה – ויקרא יב, ב

Parshas Tazria derives its name from the brief discussion at the start of the parsha about the laws pertaining to childbirth. The bulk of the parsha, however, deals with laws concerning tzora’as, a supernatural condition affecting one’s skin, clothing, or the walls of his home. This raises the question: how do these laws come under the name and banner of Tazria, signifying birth and new life, when the life of someone afflicted with tzora’as is so miserable that the Talmud (Nedarim 64b) remarks that he is as good as dead!

This unlikely name lends profound insight on the concept of Divine retribution.

Seeds of Rebirth

Maimonides writes with regard to tzora’as: “It is a sign and a wonder prevalent among the Jewish people to warn them against lashon hora, “undesirable speech.” For when one speaks lashon hara, the walls of his house change color. If he repents, the house will become pure again. If, however, he persists in his wickedness until his house requires demolition, the leatherwear in his house upon which he sits and lies will change color… If he persists in his wickedness until they require burning, the clothes he wears will change color… If he persists in his wickedness until they require burning, his skin will change and develop tzora’as. He will be isolated and made known to the public until he ceases to engage in the talk of the wicked, namely, mockery and lashon hara.” (Hilchos Tum’as Tzora’as 16:10)

Accordingly, the entire ordeal of tzora’as is a miraculous means of rehabilitation provided by G-d. Its purpose is to warn those afflicted with it to change their undesirable speaking habits, and if necessary, to force them into isolation in order to train them to control their mouths. Ultimately, tzora’as gives the individual a new lease on life, freeing him from the wretched and pathetic life of a gossipmonger.

The parsha addressing tzora’as is therefore called Tazria, to teach us that all the punishments described in the Torah are Tazria—G-d’s compassionate means of providing the seeds of renewal.

—Likutei Sichos, vol. 22, pp. 70-73


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