Sedra of the week: Tazria-Metzora

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Sedra of the week: Tazria-Metzora

Rabbi Jeff Berger looks ahead to this week's portion of the Torah

According to the NHS, 95 percent of people aged 11 to 30 will experience acne caused by a hormonal imbalance. But knowing the cause of this condition doesn’t prevent its occurrence or help those affected feel any less self-conscious.

By contrast, Tazria-Metzora goes to great lengths to define the outbreak and purification process for tzara’at – non-contagious skin lesions. Still, a metzora – the person affected – was considered the highest level of ritual impurity.

After the condition was confirmed by a Kohen, the affected person tore their clothing (a mourning ritual) and warned others to keep away. They left camp to dwell alone for periods of seven days, until the ailment was reassessed. 

After the tzara’at cleared, the purification process involved two birds; one was slaughtered and its blood was mixed in water. Before being set free, the second living bird, along with a piece of cedar wood, scarlet thread and hyssop, was dipped in the crimson-colored water and sprinkled on the metzora. Later, a separate blood ritual was performed on the right earlobe, thumb and big toe.

Metaphorically, metzora birds are linked to the tenth plague, when the Egyptian first born were killed while the Israelites, who painted their doorposts with blood, were freed.

We learnt this past year that being forced to self-isolate involves significant vulnerability. As humans, we try to explain things, to give an illusion of control. One lesson from Metzora is that what lies below the surface of our skin is what matters most, as well as there being moments beyond comprehension. 

Help perform the greatest mitzvah: save a life

While life in Israel has returned to normal and hopes are high that Britain is set for a summer without restrictions thanks to vaccines, for billions around the world there is no such imminent light at the end of the tunnel. In the majority of countries around the globe, particularly the poorest, the vaccine rollout has barely kicked off.

That's why Jewish News, the leading source of news and opinion for the entire UK community, is throwing its full weight behind UNICEF’s VaccinAid campaign by using this platform usually reserved for encouraging donations towards our own journalism to instead urge our readers around the globe to perform the greatest mitzvah: saving a life.

We have never before done this for any charity fundraiser but it's hard to recall a campaign that affects so many people, and indeed an entire planet aching for a return to normality. Just like the Chief Rabbi and Rachel Riley, we hope to boost the mission to deliver two billion vaccines, 165 million treatments and 900 million test kits around the world by the end of this year.

Please donate as much as you can, in the spirit of the Talmudic sages: “to save one life is to save the world entire”

read more: