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| Published: April 05, 2022
This week’s reading, Metzora, discusses the purification process for one who contracts “tzara’at” (skin maladies which are contracted as a result of engaging in forbidden gossip), and the symptoms and laws of “house tzara’at,” indicated by certain stone discolorations. Following is a discussion of various ritual impurities, including the laws of the menstruating woman.
First Aliyah: The Torah reading begins with a description of the purification procedure for a person who contracted tzara’at. After the priest determines that the tzara’at has been healed, a ceremony involving two birds, a cedar plank, a scarlet thread and water from a live stream, is used for the initial stage of the purification. The individual also shaves his entire body. After a seven day wait, the person shaves again, and brings three animals and an oil offering to the Temple.
Second Aliyah: The priest processes the offerings in the manner prescribed in this section. With this the purification process is completed.
Third Aliyah: If the individual suffering from tzara’at cannot afford the above sacrifices, two birds can be substituted for two of the animals. This section describes the slightly different purification process reserved for the impoverished person.
Fourth Aliyah: Homes, too, can be afflicted with tzara’at. If stones on a home become discolored — acquiring a strong red or green pigment — a priest is summoned. If indeed the discoloration seems to be tzara’at, the priest quarantines the home for up to three weeks. Depending on the spread of the discoloration, the home is either declared to be pure, or the specific stones are removed from the house, or, in the most extreme situations, the house is demolished. The Torah then describes the purification process for such a home — which is very similar to the initial stage of the purification of the human afflicted with tzara’at (described in the First Aliyah).
Fifth Aliyah: After concluding the subject of tzara’at, the Torah discusses the ritual impurity of a man who issues a sickly and unnatural seminal discharge, as well as the method by which this person attains purity when the condition passes.
Sixth Aliyah: This section discusses the ritual impurity contracted by a man who issues a (normal) seminal discharge, the ritual impurity of a menstruating woman, and of a man who cohabits with her. All such people must immerse in a mikvah (ritual pool) in order to be purified.
Seventh Aliyah: Under certain circumstances a menstruating woman was required to bring to the Temple two bird offerings in order to attain purity. These sacrifices are described in this section.
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