Parshas Tazria 2018: Keeping the Balance
The Torah teaches a concept called “tumah and taharah”, being spiritually impure or pure.
Tumah is a status. It’s nothing physical -it’s purely spiritual. There are a several ways a person to become tamei (impure). One way is by coming in contact with something that is impure or carries impurities. For example, a corpse is tamei and if one touches a corpse he too becomes defiled. A person who is defiled cannot partake in certain practices until he is purified. One way to become tahoar (pure) is through the mikvah (immersion in ritual bath house).
A woman becomes impure when she gives birth. She is deemed tamei for a period, depending on the gender of the child. Interestingly, some teach the reason Hashem made it this way is because a mother could lose sight of the fact that Hashem gave her this child, arrogantly feeling instead that she brought it into this world. As a reminder or a way to keep things in balance Hashem made it so that she is in a state of defilement and as such has some limitations. The knowledge that she is defiled will keep her self-esteem intact.
In the times of our ancestors (and in the future days of the Moshiach), there was (will be) a second kind of spiritual impurity. This was a visible white spot or lesion that would appear on a person’s body, clothing, or home. This was known as “Tzaraas” (commonly translated as “leprosy”). If one found this spot he/she would come before a kohen (priest) who would then determine if it was indeed a spiritual imperfection. Tzaraas was given as a clear sign from Heaven that the afflicted person had sinned in some way and needed to repent.
Tzaraas was not brought about by physical contact with something impure rather, from an internal feeling that led to a misdeed.
Subsequently, Hashem would cut off the circulation in one’s skin causing that spot to whiten. This physical ailment was just a symptom of a spiritual blockage. The kedusha (holiness) in our lives can sometimes be so uplifting that it can make us feel grandiose. Therefore, Hashem afflicts a person with Tzaraas.
This concept of balance in self-worth and esteem is one that Perkei Avos weighs in on. In fact, one is supposed to keep in mind two things. When one is feeling down, he should remember that the world was created for him to exist in and when one gets too high, he should contemplate his ultimate destination. These two ideas are supposed to keep one in line and in balance.
Unfortunately, without the Beis HaMikdash (holy Temple) we are disconnected from Hashem and lost the spiritual disease, Tzaraas which helped us correct ourselves. However, by learning the laws of what causes tumah and how to rectify it, we should be inspired to grow spiritually and make sure we balance our lives in accord with Hashem and His Torah.
Have a wonderful Shabbos and weekend!
Maverick V. Peters