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The Name of the Parsha

Our Parsha begins, "If a woman conceives (Tazria) and gives birth..." After discussing laws associated with childbirth, the Parsha deals with the supernatural "disease" called tzara'as which afflicted the skin and possessions of those who spoke lashon hara (gossip).

Since the vast majority of the Parsha deals with the laws of tzara'as, we need to explain the connection between this affliction and the name of the Parsha-Tazria--which refers to conception and birth.

At first glance, they seem to be contradictory themes: tzara'as is an unpleasant condition, which requires total isolation from the Jewish camp, such that the Talmud states: "the tzara'as sufferer is comparable to a dead person" (nedarim 64b). How then is this connected with Tazria - conception and birth?

A fundamental principle of Jewish Philosophy is that the punishments administered by the Torah are not intended to harm a person in return for the harm that he caused, but rather, the punishment is primarily for the benefit of the transgressor himself (see Kuzari 2:44; Ikarim 4:38)I. This is because suffering caused by a punishment cleanses the soul, allowing it to come close to God once again, either in this world or the next.

In most cases, the goodness within a punishment is not apparent to an onlooker, or to the sufferer however, it is clear that his punishment is actually for his own benefit. For by begin declared ritually impure, requiring total isolation, he will soon learn not to speak gossip any more, since there is simply no one to speak with him.

Thus from the case of the tzara'as sufferer we understand that in all other cases too, even where it is less apparent, the Torah's "punishments" are aimed at helping the sufferer correct his ill ways, and begin a new life, corrected of his former faults.

And that is why our Parsha is called Tazria, alluding to conception and birth, to teach us that just like the case of tzara'as, all the punishments of the Torah are intended to help a person have a spiritual rebirth in their lives, correct their past ways, and start anew.

(Based on Likkutei Sichos vol. 22, pp. 70-73)

   
 

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