Growth and flowering

Friday, 20 April, 2018 - 7:56 am

The moment of sowing (zri’ah)is one of excitement, happiness, hope and prayer that the action will be successful and will be followed by growth and flowering. Sowing is the creation and the beginning of a new life. When a parasha is named Tazri’a, one would expect its content to be all about sowing and beginnings. But when we actually open the book and study the parasha, we will see that it deals almost completely with tzara’at (a skin ailment mistakenly translated as leprosy) and the person who has it – a metzora; a skin affliction and tum’ah (impurity). The parasha, then, deals with things that do not symbolize life and growth at all – rather, the opposite – to the point that the Gemara in masechet Nedarim says that the metzora is likened to a dead person. Why, then, is this parasha that speaks of tum’ah and death called Tazri’a?

In Likutei Sichot, part 22, there is a deep and long dissertation in which the Rebbe explains this wonderfully and teaches us a way of life. I will begin with a short quote: “In the parasha of afflictions there is a teaching that one can apply to all of the Torah’s punishments. Torah punishments are a special act on the part of Hashem, the purpose of which is to correct the Jew, so he should go in the straight path.” This means that the purpose of the punishment is not to give the sinner what he deserves, but rather to make the person move, understand that he must change something in his ways in order to grow.

“That is precisely the content of the matter of the affliction brought in parashat Tazri’a. Both the affliction itself and the banning of the metzora from the camp are not just punishments and a removal of good from the metzora, but rather these are details and means towards his correction and healing, so that he will enter a new life.”

And so, the goal of tzara’at is growth, and that is why the parasha speaking of the metzora is called Tazri’a.

From this, my friends, we learn that when we experience a situation of difficulty and downward movement, a fall, pain or blow, we have the choice of how to relate to it. A person can focus on the pain and the fall, on the impurity, and then he is indeed compared to a dead person. As someone once said to me after a blow and a fall that he experienced: “I’m not dead, but I’m also not really alive.”

The message of the Lubavitcher Rebbe is that a wise person and a believing Jew will know to look beyond the tzara’at that has come upon him and understand that this is the way that Hashem has chosen to make him move forward, advance, plow, sow, grow and make others grow.

May we be successful!

Shabbat Shalom,


Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski

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