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Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach Tazria

Truth And Consequences

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Talk about strange bedfellows! Our parsha of Tazria contains two seemingly opposite subjects: The birth of a child, & the disease of tzara’at, which renders a person spiritually impure. The first is a source of joy & blessing, the second a cause for grief & embarrassment.

So why are they put together in the same Sedra?!

The Lubavitcher Rebbe offers great insight to this strange combination of emotions, perfect for chodesh Nisan which begins this week!

To understand, he says, we have to say a few words about the concept of reward & punishment. Both words are misleading; a much better term to use would be "consequences." Hashem does not seek to harm us, or even to "pay" us for adhering to His will. But he does want us to come to the realization that A) Everything he commands us to do in our lives is for our own good, not His; and B) There will be consequences that perforce will flow from whatever choices we make and, whether "good" or "bad", these consequences will help to steer our neshama to its rightful place.

When a person does not act in a G-dly fashion, & slanders others around him, he is really harming himself. People will start to avoid him, so that they do not also become the victim of his diatribes. He will lose friends, become a loner, & he will fall into depression & bitterness.

But there is a cure for this. When the Torah declares such a slanderer tamei, ritually impure, he is put into quarantine, apart from the community. There, in isolation, he can begin his rehabilitation process. Because he is now alone, with no one to speak to, he will physically not be able to slander anyone! He will think long & hard about why he has been set apart from others. He will hopefully grasp the truth about the error of his ways, & this will start him on the road to being a more perfect person. This, in turn, will result in more blessings flowing to him.

As his faults shrink, his good midot will undoubtedly expand & it will be a "win-win-win" situation - for him, for his fellow Jews & for Hashem!

This is the connection to the opening part of our parsha, the link to the subject of conception & birth. The consequences of our actions allow us to achieve a spiritual "rebirth," to regain some of that pristine innocence which we had when we first came into this world as a neshem Hashem, a breath of G-d. Our souls will be cleansed & we will emerge, literally, a new person!
Rabbi Stewart Weiss
Was ordained at the Hebrew Theological College in Skokie, Illinois, and led congregations in Chicago and Dallas prior to making Aliyah in 1992. He directs the Jewish Outreach Center in Ra'anana, helping to facilitate the spiritual absorption of new olim.
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