Twelve Gates Parshas Tazria -
Metzora April 16, 2010
to Beyond Twelve Gates. This past week Michael Lawrence was hiking on a
rocky beach in South Australia with
his son Pete, 13, when they discovered an old whiskey bottle
with a message inside that was written in Chinese characters.
A Chinese crewman dropped the bottle into the ocean after leaving Argentina
five years ago. The message read; "Happy to connect with you. I
would like to make friends with you. Would you like to?", and according
to a translator was signed 'Li Xing Bo'. A marine
ecologist said the odds of the bottle surviving the mammoth journey were
incalculable. Mr. Lawrence said he would ask his son to write a letter in
response to Li Xing.
receiving a message from intelligent life in outer space. The thrill
would be breathtaking. Now...imagine receiving a message sent from the
Creator of the Universe. Could we contain our curiosity about what
the Creator wanted to share with us? The Jewish people once received
such a message on behalf of humanity. It was called
Perhaps it can be said that the essence of G-d's message is similar to
that sent by Chinese crewman Li Xing Bo: "Happy to connect with
you. I would like to make friends with you. Would you like
Tazria / Metzora Leviticus 12:1 -- 15:33
Tazria describes in great detail the
varying and numerous manifestations of the disease called tzaraas.
Although it has commonly been mistranslated as leprosy, this skin
disease bears little resemblance to any bodily ailment transmitted
through normal exposure. Rather, tzaraas is the physical
manifestation of a spiritual malaise, a punishment from G-d primarily for the
sin of speaking loshon hara. Loshon hara, meaning literally
'the evil tongue', is often translated as 'gossip'. However, loshon
hara refers to derogatory speech about others that is true. Motzei
shem rah is the Hebrew term for derogatory speech that is false and
contracted tzaraas is known as a metzora. The appearance of
a tzaraas-like patch on his skin was subject to a series of
examinations by a Kohen, who would declare the patient to be either tahor
(spiritually pure) or tamei (spiritually impure). If tamei,
he is isolated outside of the camp, an appropriate punishment for someone
whose foul tongue caused friends to be separated from one another.
Parshas Metzora continues the discussion of tzaraas,
detailing the three-part purification process of the metzora administered
by a Kohen, complete with immersions, korbanos (offerings) and the
shaving of the entire body. Tzaraas could afflict ones clothing and
home, and necessitate the burning of ones clothes and demolishing of ones
home if the disease spread.
famed skydiver Felix Baumgartner
can jump out of a balloon at 120,000 feet, his ground crew
will have to clear it first with the Federal Aviation Administration.
"Felix will be coming in like a missile," says Dr. Jonathan Clark, medical director of
the mission. "We don't want him to be confused with
otherwise known as Fearless Felix, is a former paratrooper in the Austrian
Special Forces who has already completed some of the most difficult jumps on
earth. Now he intends to become the first skydiver to break the sound
barrier. His plan is to leap
from a helium balloon in the stratosphere,
gain a speed of up to 690 miles
per hour in a 5.5-minute freefall, and open his parachute to
land 23 miles below. What makes Fearless Felix jump?
human being is created with an innate desire to grow, achieve and accomplish.
Someone once said, "A ship is safe in a harbor, but that's not what
ships were made for." A ship is made to sail, and so are
we (I'm not certain, however, that we were created to jump out of
balloons 23 miles above earth!). The Torah teaches that every Jew is
obligated to say, "When will my actions reach the lofty levels of the
Patriarchs and Matriarchs?" This statement isn't simply
'good advice', but rather, a directive to strive for greatness.
Many of our Jewish brethren have admirably accomplished great things in
the scientific, academic and cultural world. However, with an
insatiable desire to grow closer to G-d, there is no limit to what we can
achieve spiritually, and to how good a Jew each of us can become.
of the Week
lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter -- Martin Luther King Jr.
of the Week
of silence were broken by an historic long-awaited meeting between
Rabbi of Israel
and the Pope. No students, seminarians or members of the media
were allowed to be close enough to listen to a word of the
hour-long conversation. However, those on the other side
of the glass partition noted that the chat between the Chief Rabbi and Pope
seemed to be friendly and cordial. Of particular interest was their
final interchange; observers saw the Chief Rabbi reach into his jacket pocket,
pull out a small piece of paper, and hand it to the Pope. The Pope
carefully examined the paper, smiled, and mouthed the words 'thank you' to
the Chief Rabbi.
the media had an opportunity to interview the participants, the first
question asked of the Chief Rabbi was, "What was the significance
of the paper you gave to the Pope at the end of your meeting? Was it a
statement of principles for future meetings? Was it a request for an
apology from the Church for past atrocities committed against the Jewish
people?" The Chief Rabbi shook his head slowly,
smiled, and said, 'None of those. The paper I gave the Pope was
--- the catering bill for the Last Supper!"