The central focus of Tazria-Metzora is tzaraat, an ailment that can afflict the skin, clothing and the walls of our homes. Rabbinic tradition has always perceived tzaraat as a divine affliction for sins of a social nature:
Rabbi Shmuel bar Nachmani said in the name of Rabbi Yochanan, Plagues come for seven things: slander, bloodshed, perjury, incest, pride, robbery, and selfishness. (Arakhin 16a)
Why does this phenomenon relate in particular to social violation? If you think about it, our skin, our clothing, and our homes are the membranes, the coverings that surround us, protect us. They protect us from the outside, but they also show us to the wider environment. If they are sealed too tight, they suffocate us, too loose, we are vulnerable. They need to be calibrated for a perfect balance of exposure and insulation.
Click here to read more from Rabbi Alex Israel in this week’s Parsha Discussion: Tazria/Metzora — Individual and Collective.
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