• Gabbai

Tazria – A Precious Disease

Parshat Tazria is often read together with Metzora. The content of the two are similar, dealing mainly with the tzara’at affliction in its various forms and the procedure of treatment and purification.

Tzara’at, often described as leprosy, manifests itself in a discoloring of the skin on one’s body, garment or walls of one’s home. While it may have similar symptoms to leprosy, tzara’at is in fact a spiritual disease with physical symptoms. Hydrocortizone and antihistamines would be ineffective in treating tzara’at. The ‘doctor’ to be visited when contracting tzara’at is the kohen, who would have been trained to identify this condition and who would advise the patient of the proper course of action.

We have succeeded in eradicating smallpox and we consider it a great accomplishment that in most parts of the world the polio virus and malaria is non-existent. Other forms of harmful bacteria are also kept under tight control. It is a source of pride to the science community that these diseases are under control and we are ever continuing our efforts to eliminate other harmful diseases. We inoculate ourselves with vaccinations for all sorts of common diseases; even the common flu is finding it more difficult to ensnare us in its clutches. How fortunate we are that tzara’at is not a disease that is presently among us!

Yet, the opposite is true. Our tradition bemoans the fact that tzara’at has left us. Strangely enough tzara’at is seen as a very positive element in community life.

The Talmud explains that tzara’at would affect one who displays a haughty arrogance towards another, speaking negatively about the other. A happy society is one that functions with