Rabbi Milevsky's Thought of the Week: Tazria-Metzorah - 5778
A SPIRITUAL AILMENT
This week's paresha, Tazria, deals with a variety of infections and diseases that may perhaps result in tzara'at. Tzara'at may infect a person's body, clothing or home. Someone who is infected with tzara'at must leave the camp and remove all of his or her infected clothing. They must remain outside of the camp until the infection is healed, at which point they have to offer a sacrifice.
This term is often translated as "leprosy", though the Rabbis note that it is a spiritual disease that leaves one tameh (spiritually impure) and not a medical ailment. Rabbi Shamshon Raphael Hirsch demonstrated that tzara'at was not to be interpreted as a medical malady, but rather as a spiritual affliction. The verse itself indicates this, as it directs those who find themselves afflicted to seek out a Kohen and not a doctor. In addition, the Talmud teaches that if the symptoms of tzara'at appear on a newlywed or during a festival season, the Kohen does not examine the affliction or declare it to be tameh, in order not to interfere with the celebration. If the purpose of these laws is to prevent the spread of an infectious disease, it would be enforced - especially during a holiday, a time when multitudes get together.
Once we have determined that the ailment addressed in the Paresha is a spiritual one, our goal this week should be to try to understand the flaws that the Torah wants us to address and thus become a better nation.