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Finding Unique Blessings in Every One of Us

In the double portion, Tazria/M’tzora, we have the responsibility, even if it isn’t our pleasure, to investigate texts on birth and its aftermath, bodily afflictions and emissions, skin ailments, and leprosy. They were once taboos that raised fears in the community and turned priests of their day into guardians of purity.

D'var Torah By: 
Separation as a Path to Holiness
Davar Acher By: 
Rabbi Baht Weiss

A country road splits into two roadsRabbi Lyon begins

Bringing New Meaning to the Status of a Menstruating Woman

Theologian Elizabeth Dodson Gray notes: "Women's bodies may be the hardest place for women to find sacredness" ( Sacred Dimensions of Women's Experience, 1988, p. 197). Our society sends negative messages to women from earliest childhood about the expected perfection of their physiques and the disappointments of any flaws in the female form. Parashat M'tzora, then, with its focus on menstrual impurity (15:19-24), seems to impart the same kind of unfavorable sense. Rejecting our own received biases and patriarchal assumptions about menstruation, however, can help us form a contemporary view of these so-called taboos.

D'var Torah By: 
Power and Autonomy in the Menstruation Taboo
Davar Acher By: 
Suzanne Singer

Rabbi Goldstein elegantly turns the traditional notion of nidah, menstruation, on its head: from a condition conveying impurity or even uncleanness, to one of sacredness and power. In a similar reconception, the author Judith S. Antonelli points out that since, "procreation, bodily secretions, and death all convey tumah . . . it is inaccurate to categorize tumah as 'death' and taharah [purity] as 'life,' for tumah itself comprises both life and death"1

Antonelli traces the negative connotations associated with menstruation to the rabbis of our tradition. The Babylonian Talmud, for example, states: "If a menstruating woman passes between two [men], if it is at the beginning of her period she will kill one of them, and if is at the end of her period she will cause strife between them" (P'sachim 111a, in Antonelli, p. 279). The medieval philosopher and physician, Nachmanides, believed that the child was formed from the woman's blood, but not out of her menstrual blood: "How could a fetus be formed out of that, since it is a deadly poison, causing the death of any creature that drinks it or eats it!" (ibid.)

The Skin (Deep) Disease

Parashat Tazria/M'tzora is concerned with skin diseases and the procedures involved in checking for them, assessing them, declaring the sufferers healed, and reintegrating the latter

D'var Torah By: 
The "Magic" of Ritual
Davar Acher By: 
Kim S. Geringer

In this week's double parashah, Tazria/M'tzora, we learn more than anybody would ever want to know about a skin condition called tzaraat, an apparently serious collection of skin

Slander and Sliding Scales: The Legacy of Parashat M'tzora

Parashat M'tzora is one of those Torah portions that-at first glance-contains subject matter that doesn't seem to speak to the religious strivings or spiritual sensibilities of conte

D'var Torah By: 
More than One Concern
Davar Acher By: 
Henry Bamberger

Rabbi Barth points out the importance of the Torah's provision for the person of limited means to bring a less expensive sacrifice than is expected of the wealthy (or even fairly well-to-do)

Broken Pieces of God's World

Matan Koch is an old friend of mine who, nine years ago, was (what we used to refer to as) a "wheelchair-bound" law student at Harvard University.

D'var Torah By: 
Putting Our Houses in Order
Davar Acher By: 
Sigma Faye Coran

"How fair are your tents, O Jacob, Your dwellings, O Israel!" (Numbers 24:5). How do we protect our homes and keep them fair and good?

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