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28.03.2014 11:08    Comments: 0    Categories: Weekly Parashah      Tags: torah  shabbat  parachah  tazria  

Parashat Tazria: 1 Minute on the Parasha with Rabbi Cowen:

Parashat Tazria begins with the Torah instructing a woman to bring a korban after the birth of a child. A son is to be circumcised on the eighth day of his life. The Torah introduces the phenomenon of tzara'at (traditionally mistranslated as leprosy) — a miraculous affliction that attacks people, clothing and buildings to awaken a person to spiritual failures. A kohen must be consulted to determine whether a particular blemish is tzara'at or not. The kohen isolates the afflicted individual for a week. If the affliction remains unchanged, quarantine continues for a second week, after which the kohen determines the person's status. The Torah describes the different forms of tzara'at. One whose tzara'at is definitively diagnosed wears torn clothing, does not cut his hair, and must alert others that he is ritually impure. He may not have normal contact with people. The phenomenon of tzara'at on clothing is described in detail in this Parasha. Points to Ponder this Week: The Mazal for the month of Nissan is a ram.  The Egyptians, who were the most professional of astrologers, worshipped this particular Mazal, because it is the first, the b’chor, of all of the Mazalot.  Accordingly, they believed they could draw the strength and power from this Mazal which was necessary for them to rule the world. Hashem therefore specifically took the Children of Israel out of Egypt during the height of this Mazal’s governance--on the 15th day--in the middle of Nissan.  Moreover, the lamb (ram) which was the earthly symbol of this Mazal, was restrained by being tied to bedposts--and then even ritually slaughtered during the Mazal’s very governance.  Had the Jewish Nation been taken out in any other month, the Egyptians could have claimed that its Mazאl was simply not ruling that month, but had it been… What is Mazal anyway?  HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, (Siftei Chaim 2:268), explains that Mazal is the method of controlling the creation from heaven to earth, which is wholly independent of man’s conduct (Mazal is connected with the word “Nozel”--to flow from heaven to earth).  The Egyptians were right--Mazalot were effective--until Rosh Chodesh Nissan--the day upon which Hashem taught us that **WE, the Jewish People**, would now supersede and govern over all creation by our actions.  As the Pasuk states: “This month is TO YOU the first month.”  Hashem, in the first mitzvah given to our Nation as a people, teaches them that their actions will simply override all Mazalot. As Rav Friedlander explains, the term “Ain Mazal L’Yisroel - There is no Concept of Mazal for Israel” (Shabbos 156A) means that the Mazalot have no power over us--just the opposite, our actions now control the creation! This obviously puts us in a very responsible position.  On that first day of Nissan in the year 2448, we lost the status of commoners, and, in effect, became ranking high officers, because all of our actions, even the smaller ones, impact the world in its entirety. In fact, our actions are so profound, that we can bring the Shechina into this world by building a Mishkan, and we can, Chas V’Shalom, drive the Shechina/Divine Presence of HaShem away with seemingly something as trivial as Sinat Chinam--the senseless hatred--of one person to another. So what are we to do--is this simply teaching us about “Jewish guilt”?  No, quite to the contrary.  Does a King’s son say, “Forget this, I would rather carry water”??  Or does a Colonel say, “I’d rather be on all-night guard duty??”  No, or at least, they should not.  Instead, they will recognize the importance of their position and learn how to help themselves--and the many others whose lives they now affect.  How?  By taking instruction from the King, and by learning from the Generals, what to do and how to do it. Indeed, Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin, Z’tl, in his work, Nefesh HaChaim (Sha’ar 1, Chapter 4) teaches that the acts of sacrilege of Titus the wicked in the Holy of Holies in the Holy Temple were less than meaningless trifle and had no bearing on this world--but our smallest deeds shake the cosmos. As we begin our Pesach preparations, where we spend our valuable time searching for even crumbs of Chametz, scrubbing walls and turning pockets inside out, when some men become homemakers--kneading dough, baking matzot, or perhaps grinding marror, where world class athletes would envy women’s adrenaline levels, when we spend so much money on potatoes and eggs and figuring out different ways to prepare them, we should keep in mind--or least when the going gets rough, remind ourselves--when performing any and all of our actions that we are the star colonels, we are sons of the King--whatever we do is truly very, very important and how we do it impacts not only on our family, friends or neighbors, but actually governs the world and all of its hosts.
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