THE TORAH READING FOR 30 NISAN 5783 APRIL 21-22, 2023
From Reform Judaism https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/tazria-mtzora
Tazria – M’tzora (תַזְרִיעַ – מְצֹרָע — Bearing Seed / A Leper) – Leviticus 12:1-15:33
The Eternal One spoke to Moses, saying: “Speak to the Israelite people thus: When a woman at childbirth bears a male, she shall be impure seven days; she shall be impure as at the time of her condition of menstrual separation.” – Leviticus 12:1-2 The Eternal One spoke to Moses, saying: “This shall be the ritual for a leper at the time of being purified .” – Leviticus 14:1-2
- God describes the rituals of purification for a woman after childbirth. (12:1-8)
- God sets forth the methods for diagnosing and treating a variety of skin diseases, including tzara-at (a leprous affection), as well as those for purifying clothing. (13:1-59)
- Priestly rituals to cure tzara-at when it afflicts humans are described. (14:1-32)
- Rituals to rid dwelling places of tzara-at are presented. (14:33-57)
- The parashah denotes male impurities resulting from a penile discharge or seminal emission. (15:1-18)
- The parashah concludes with accounts of female impurities caused by a discharge of blood. (15:19-33)
HAFTARAH – Rosh Chodesh
Reform: II Kings 7:3-20 [Historic: Isaiah 66:1-24]
From Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tazria#Haftarah
When parashah Tazria is combined with parashah Metzora … and it is not a special Sabbath, the haftarah is the haftarah for parashah Metzora, 2 Kings 7:3–20.
On Shabbat Rosh Chodesh
When the combined parashah coincides with Shabbat Rosh Chodesh (as it does in ), [historically,] the haftarah is Isaiah 66:1–24.
Connection to the parashah
Both the double parashah and the haftarah deal with people stricken with skin disease. Both the parashah and the haftarah employ the term for the person affected by skin disease (metzora, מְּצֹרָע). In parashah Tazria, Leviticus 13:46 provides that the person with skin disease “shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his dwelling be,” thus explaining why the four leprous men in the haftarah lived outside the gate.
From Reform Judaism https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/tazria-mtzora
A Spiritual Wellness Check Up: Examining My Metaphorical Case of Tzara’at
By: Cantor David Fair
STRUGGLING WITH TORAH and REFLECTION
For Torah Study, instead of the portion from the Book of Leviticus that is read on this Shabbat, we will read the Haftarah (a selection from the prophets) from II Kings 7:3-20. You can read this week’s Torah Portion at https://www.sefaria.org/Leviticus.12.1-15.33, and the Haftarah at https://www.sefaria.org/II_Kings.7.3-20
From “The Torah / A Women’s Commentary” edited by Dr. Tamara Cohn Eskenazi and Rabbi Andrea L. Weiss, Ph.D.
תזריע Tazria – Leviticus 12:1-13:59
Post-biblical Interpretations – by Charlotte Elisheva Fonrobert, pp. 650-2
a woman at childbirth (12:2). The literal meaning of the word tazria, translated here as “at childbirth,” is that the woman “produces seed.” The talmudic rabbis–who had much to say about matters of conception, pregnancy, the formation of the embryo, and birth–played upon such a reading when some of them held that both woman and man can emit “seed.” A statement in the Talmud, frequently repeated in medieval biblical commentaries, asserts that “if the woman emits her ‘seed’ first, she bears a male child; if the man emits his seed [semen] first, she bears a female child” (BT Niddah 25b, 28a, 31a; BT B’rachot 60a). Presumably this comment models female genital secretions after the male seminal emission. Among other proofs, the Rabbis cite the language in this verse (BT Niddah 31a). Based on this theory, some rabbis speculated on how men should conduct their sexual lives in order to produce offspring of the desired gender. These suggestions were later anthologized in the mystically inspired medieval sex manual The Holy Letter. Another area of rabbinic interest was the genetic material from which the embryo is made. One opinion in the Talmud suggests that “there are three partners in [the procreation of] a person: the blessed Holy One, the father, and the mother” (BT Niddah 31a). The father is said to supply the seed (mazria) of the body’s white substances, such as bones, sinews, nails, the brain, and the white of the eye. The mother supplied the seed (mazraat) of what the Rabbis consider to be the red substances, such as skin, flesh, blood, and the pupil of the eye. And God gives the child its breath, along with beauty of feature, eyesight, the powers of hearing and speaking, the ability to walk, and intellectual capabilities.
If she bears a female, she shall be impure two weeks (12:5). Like modern commentators, the talmudic rabbis were puzzled by the doubling of the mother’s status of ritual impurity following the birth of a daughter. Mishnah Niddah 3:7 touches on this question in a rabbinic disagreement about embryology. According to the opinion of Rabbi Ishmael, the male embryo is fully fashioned after forty-one days, while the female embryo requires eighty-one days. The Talmud suggests that Rabbi Ishmael deduces these numbers from our verse: 7 plus 33 days for a male embryo, completed on the forty-first day; and 14 plus 66 days for a female embryo, completed on the eighty-first day. (Early Greek scholars, such as Aristotle and Hippocrates, also assumed a slower development of the female embryo.) However, a majority of rabbis in this debate disagree and affirm the equal development of male and female embryos at forty-one days. Elsewhere, the Talmud (BT B’rachot 60a) considers whether, if the sex of the child is already determined at conception, it would be useful during the first forty days of a woman’s pregnancy to pray that the child be male. According to Mishnah B’rachot 9:3, a prayer for a male baby at any point during pregnancy is to be considered “a vain prayer”; the Talmud, however, suggests that it may avail in certain circumstances if it is made in the first forty days of pregnancy.
she shall bring … a purgation offering (12:6). Again, the rabbis of the Talmud wondered why the postpartum woman should have to bring a chatat-offering to the priest and why he would need to make expiation on her behalf. While modern translations and commentaries usually construe this particular chatat-offering as unrelated to prior sin, the Rabbis did not easily dismiss the usual connection of the chatat-offering with sin (see 4:1–5:13), even in the context of birth. As one tradition has it: “Rabbi Simeon ben Yohai was asked by his disciples: Why did the Torah ordain that a woman after childbirth should bring a sacrifice? He replied: When she kneels in bearing she swears spontaneously that she will have no more sex with her husband. The Torah, therefore ordained that she should bring a sacrifice” (BT Niddah 31b). This prompts some talmudic rabbis to a somewhat farfetched explanation for the double length of the mother’s impurity following the birth of a female child (see 12:5), based on the social attitudes of Jewish antiquity: They suggest that since everyone is happy about the birth of the boy, the mother quickly regrets her oath made while she was suffering the pains of labor; however, for a girl, whose birth prompts little celebration, regret at the oath does not set in for fourteen days (BT Niddah 31b). Elsewhere, however, the Talmud (BT K’ritot 26a) denies that the chatat-offering expiates the mother’s supposed sin of an unintended oath, and instead emphasizes its purifying function, thus anticipating contemporary commentators.
מצרע M’tzora – Leviticus 14:1-15:33
Post-biblical Interpretations – by Charlotte Elisheva Fonrobert, pp. 672-3
This shall be the ritual for a leper (14:2). In BT Arachin 15b the Rabbis interpreted this biblical word for “leper’ (m’tzora, the person afflicted with tzaraat) as an acronym for the Hebrew term for slander (motzi shem ra). Thus, they insisted that tzaraat is a divine punishment for defaming others, a grave transgression in a culture that highly valued oral communication (BT Bava M’tzia 58a). The connection between slander and tzaraat already appears in Numbers 12 when Miriam is afflicted for complaining about her brother Moses. In Midrash Sifra, M’tzora 5.7, the Rabbis emphasize that Miriam’s contraction of tzaraat (Number 12:10) was the result of her denunciation of Moses, particularly because she slandered him behind his back.
When … I inflict an eruptive plague upon a house (14:34). From early on, the Rabbis held that the house afflicted by this strange plague never existed and never will exist–and that the only reason that this law exists is for the purpose of theoretical study (Tosefta N’gaim 6:1). The Talmud does not develop the Mishnah tractate devoted to the topic.
he shall … bathe his body in fresh water (15:13). Heb. mayim chayim (“fresh water,” literally “living water”) is required as a means of purification not only for the man with a discharge but also in the case of tzaraat for both people and houses (14:5–6, 50–52), and in the case of corpse impurity (Numbers 19:8). All of these cases of ritual impurity last for at least seven days. However, the Torah notably does not mention the requirement of immersion in water for cases of impurity of similar duration that are specific to women, such as those resulting from birth, menstruation, or irregular genital bleeding. The Mishnah assumes that immersion in fresh water applies to women’s impurities as well (Mikvaot 1:8).
When a woman has a discharge (15:19). This passage establishes the rules of purification concerning a woman’s menstrual period. The Rabbis developed these regulations into an entire tractate called Niddah, the “Menstruating woman,” which is part of the mishnaic order called Purities. Much like the priestly writers of Leviticus, the Rabbis did not consider purity and impurity a matter of morality but rather a matter of ritual status with regard to access to the Temple in Jerusalem. Thus, many of the rules of purity and impurity detailed in the biblical passage here and in Mishnah Niddah had no application in a post-Temple reality. However, the rules of sexual abstinence during the wife’s menstrual period, which the Rabbis derived from Leviticus 18:19 and 20:18, are not dependent on the historical existence of the Temple and continue to regulate the sex life of married couples in traditional Jewish communities to this day. Indeed, many of the rabbinic discussions in BT Niddah focus on the workings of menstruation and on women’s physiology in general, instituting the rabbinic sage as a sort of gynecological expert to be consulted when problems arise.
a discharge of blood for many days (15:25). The Torah assumes a menstrual calendar of seven days of bleeding. It considers any bleeding beyond seven days or outside of the seven regular days to be abnormal. It categorizes a woman with an irregular discharge as a zavah, parallel to the male category of zav (15:13). In a tractate called Zavim, the Mishnah discusses both men and women with irregular genital discharges. In biblical law, the rules of purification for the zavah differ from the rules for menstruation. Notably, the afflicted woman must count seven days after the irregular discharge has ceased before purification can take place. The Talmud, however, merges the two categories of regular and irregular bleeding. Accordingly, a woman is to count seven “white” days without discharge after her menses before she immerses in a mikveh and resumes marital intimacy. The Talmud famously attributes this more stringent practice to women: “Rabbi Zera said: The daughters of Israel (b’not Yisrael) have imposed upon themselves the stringency that even where they observe only a drop of blood the size of a mustard seed, they wait on account of it seven clean days” (BT Niddah 66a). One should not dismiss Rabbi Zera’s attribution of this legal stringency to women too readily, considering that throughout Jewish history women have used the laws of niddah toward their own spiritual empowerment, as well as for practical purposes, including control over their sex lives.
SEFIRAT HA’ÓMER (Counting of the ‘Ómer) – April 6-May 25
We are in the 49-day period of Counting the ‘Ómer, which this year began Thursday evening, April 6 and continues until Shavuot (Festival of Weeks), which starts the evening of Thursday, 25 May and ends at nightfall on Saturday, 27 May 2023.
Today, Friday, day 16 begins this evening at sundown. Before the ‘Alëinu, after stating that one is ready to count the ‘Ómer, the following blessing is said:
Baruch atah Adonai Elohëinu Mélech ha’olam, asher kid’shánu b’mitzvotav, v’tzivánu ‘al S’firat Ha‘Ómer.
Blessed are you, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe, who has sanctified us with your commandments and commanded us to count the ‘Ómer.
After the blessing, one recites the appropriate day of the count. If after the first six days, one also includes the number of weeks that one has counted. For example:
“Hayom shishah ‘asar yom, shehëm shenëi shavua’ot ushenëi yamim la‘Ómer/ba‘Ómer.”
“Today is 16 days, which is two weeks and two days of/in the ‘Ómer.”
PIRKË AVOT – Ethics of the Fathers
From Pesach to Shavuot on each Shabbat some study a chapter a week from Pirkë Avot. Following are two selections from the third chapter for this Shabbat:
From Sefaria https://www.sefaria.org/Pirkei_Avot.3
6: Rabbi Halafta of Kefar Hanania said: when ten sit together and occupy themselves with Torah, the Shechinah abides among them, as it is said: “God stands in the congregation of God” (Psalm 82:1). How do we know that the same is true even of five? As it is said: “This band of His He has established on earth” (Amos 9:6). How do we know that the same is true even of three? As it is said: “In the midst of the judges He judges” (Psalm 82:1) How do we know that the same is true even of two? As it is said: “Then they that fear the Lord spoke one with another, and the Lord hearkened, and heard” (Malachi 3:16). How do we know that the same is true even of one? As it is said: “In every place where I cause my name to be mentioned I will come unto you and bless you” (Exodus 20:21).
16. Everything is foreseen yet freedom of choice is granted, And the world is judged with goodness; And everything is in accordance with the preponderance of works.
ROSH CHODESH IYAR – אִיָיר (Iyar): Ani Adonai Rofécha – I am the God who heals you
Begins at sundown on Thursday, April 20 and ends at sundown Saturday, April 22, 2023. Iyar is the second month of the Hebrew calendar and contains 29 days.
From “Mishkan T’filah / A Reform Siddur”:
ROSH CHODESH IYAR (Shabbat) – R’TZËH insert p.174
OUR GOD and God of our fathers and mothers, on this first day of the new month be mindful of us and all Your people Israel, for good, for love, for compassion, life and peace. Remember us for wellbeing. Amen. Visit us with blessing. Amen. Help us to a fuller life. Amen.
FOR OUR COUNTRY p.516
THUS SAYS ADONAI, This is what I desire: to unlock the fetters of wickedness, and untie the cords of lawlessness; to let the oppressed go free, to break off every yoke. Share your bread with the hungry, and take the wretched poor into your home. When you see the naked, give clothing, and do not ignore your own kin.
O GUARDIAN of life and liberty, may our nation always merit Your protection. Teach us to give thanks for what we have by sharing it with those who are in need. Keep our eyes open to the wonders of creation, and alert to the care of the earth. May we never be lazy in the work of peace; may we honor those who have [served, suffered or] died in defense of our ideals. Grant our leaders wisdom and forbearance. May they govern with justice and compassion. Help us all to appreciate one another, and to respect the many ways that we may serve You. May our homes be safe from affliction and strife, and our country be sound in body and spirit. Amen.
We recite MI SHEBËRACH for the victims of brutality, abuse, fear, natural disasters, pandemics, violence, and war; for all those at home alone; for all those in need of physical, emotional, and mental healing. “R’fuah sh’lëmah” – a complete recovery!
We say KADDISH YATOM for those of our friends and families who have died and been buried this last week; those in the period of Sh’loshim (30 days since burial); those who have died in the last year; and those whose Yahrzeits/Anyos occur at this time; as well as the victims of brutality, disease, natural disasters, war and violence.
This coming week, 1 Iyar through 7 Iyar, we lovingly remember:
Cousin of Temple Kol Hamidbar Congregational President Dr. Sam Caron
Those victims of the Shoah (Holocaust) who died at this time of year.
“Zichronam liv’rachah” – May their memories be for blessing.
TORAH STUDY AND SHAZOOM
We will meet as usual at the regular times for Torah Study and Shazoom this evening, Friday, April 21, 2023. We will discuss Haftarah Tazria-Metzora II Kings 7:3-20.
Zoom regularly updates its security and performance features. Making sure you have the latest version of Zoom, please join us online this evening with wine/grape juice for Kiddush and Challah for Motzi.
Topic: Torah Study – Haftarah Tazria-Metzora: II Kings 7:3-20
Time: April 21, 2023 06:00 PM Arizona
Shazoom – Erev Shabbat Service
Time: April 21, 2023 07:30 PM Arizona
To join Torah Study and/or Shazoom click on the following link [you may need to copy it into your browser]: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/72510500854?pwd=Z3VQZWF4U1BBZytNYmh3aHFTWkFDZz09
Meeting ID: 725 1050 0854
Hint: The last character of the password is the number zero.
Shabbat Shalom – Buen Shabbat/Gut Shabbos!
PS – About the Book of Kings:
From Jewish Encyclopedia
From Jewish Virtual Library
From My Jewish Learning
Timelines from Wikipedia