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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash


Updated: Mar 30, 2022

In the center of a book about a people, God and laws that guide our lives, appear a few paragraphs that are as foreign as the terrain a foreign star, as far from our understanding as the bottom of the sea. But being at the center of Torah must give these words and ideas great significance. Whether the idea of Tzaraat is a punishment for speaking ill of someone or a lack of generosity, their placement in Torah and the amount of space they receive increases their mystery and significance. Perhaps they are a lesson not yet revealed to us or perhaps they allow us to create scenarios for its meaning.

One thing though is for certain though, that is that Tzaraat and this Parsha of Tazria, in its foreignness reminds us of the mystery that is Torah. Just as creation is filled with mystery and questions, so are the concepts of Tazria and Metzora, the affliction of skin, hair, clothing and houses.

Leann March 29, 2022


One small spot

white like snow.

One small patch

on the landscape

that is a human.


Scarred or freckled,

wrinkled or puckered,

bumped or bruised

Our skin reveals

who we are,

where we have been.

One small white spot

surrounded by a body

that touches and is touched.

Moved by motivation,

influenced by values,

intentions and interactions,

by attitudes and judgements.

Surrounded by individuals,

bordered by a community.

One patch of skin

textured, nuanced


Is it a surprise?

Snow white skin

Have we

passed or failed?

We look inward,

deeper still

to find the answers

the answers.

The small white spot

remains a mystery.

One lacy white spot

Governed by laws.

Examined, observed

realized by language,

clarified by questions.

One small spot

raised or smooth

in a human

created in God's image.

Our souls

carefully wrapped in skin.

A soul pure

but that can be led astray.

״אֱלֹהַי, נְשָׁמָה שֶׁנָּתַתָּ בִּי טְהוֹרָה. אַתָּה יְצַרְתָּהּ בִּי, אַתָּה נְפַחְתָּהּ בִּי, וְאַתָּה מְשַׁמְּרָהּ בְּקִרְבִּי, וְאַתָּה עָתִיד לִיטְּלָהּ מִמֶּנִּי וּלְהַחֲזִירָהּ בִּי לְעָתִיד לָבֹא.

My God, the soul You have placed within me is pure.

You formed it within me,

You breathed it into me,

and You guard it while it is within me.

One day You will take it from me and restore it within me in the time to come.*

*Brachot 60b

One small white spot

surrounded by the known

by unknown

There is always the hope

for return,

for forgiveness.

וַיְדַבֵּ֣ר יְהֹוָ֔ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֥ה וְאֶֽל־אַהֲרֹ֖ן לֵאמֹֽר׃

יהוה spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying:

לְנֶ֣גַע צָרָ֑עַת וְהוּבָא֙ אֶל־אַהֲרֹ֣ן הַכֹּהֵ֔ן א֛וֹ אֶל־אַחַ֥ד מִבָּנָ֖יו הַכֹּהֲנִֽים׃

When a person has on the skin of the body a swelling, a rash, or a discoloration, and it develops into a scaly affection on the skin of the body, it shall be reported*it shall be reported Or “[the person] shall be brought.” to Aaron the priest or to one of his sons, the priests.

לְנֶ֣גַע צָרָ֑עַת וְהוּבָא֙ אֶל־אַהֲרֹ֣ן הַכֹּהֵ֔ן א֛וֹ אֶל־אַחַ֥ד מִבָּנָ֖יו הַכֹּהֲנִֽים׃

The priest shall examine the affection on the skin of the body: if hair in the affected patch has turned white and the affection appears to be deeper than the skin of the body, it is a Heb. ṣara‘ath is used for a variety of diseases. Where a human being is declared impure by reason of ṣara‘ath, the traditional translation “leprosy” has been retained without regard to modern medical terminology. affection; when the priest sees it, he shall pronounce the person impure.

Leviticus 13:1-3 Translation from Sefaria

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