Parsha Tazria Metzora

April 29th, 2017

3rd of Iyar 5777


Maskil L’David

Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

These parshiyot – Tazria and Metzora tell about the metzora. Chazal say that the word “Metzora” is a combination of the word “motzi ra – one who emits slander” (lit. spreading negative information), implying that tzara’at is retribution for one who slanders, since he spread derogatory information. But there is another meaning to tzara’at that a metzora suffers, as it is stated in Gemara about tzara’at (Berachot 5b): It is nothing else but an altar of atonement. Suffering purifies a person from all evilness, since through suffering he is cleansed from all sin. This is the reason for the juxtaposition:  “If a woman conceives … and on the eighth day, the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised” and following this is parashat Metzora, which signifies that just as through the mizvah of Brit Mila (circumcision) the child connects to the Covenant of Avraham Avinu, so too the suffering and pain that a person experiences because of his tzara’at removes all evilness from him and connects him to Hashem, since suffering is for the benefit of man and he should not despair when it comes upon him.  

This is what the Mashgiach of Ponovezh, a”h, explains, that tzara’at sets in gradually. At first it begins to appear in one’s home, which is slightly removed from the person, but yet he is dependent on his home for shelter. If he does not sense the connection that this occurred as a result of his sins, then the tzara’at appears on his clothes that cover his body, which is already closer to him. But if he still does not repent and do teshuvah, then the tzara’at strikes his body, which is closest to him. This teaches us that one should not be indifferent to troubles that Hashem brings upon him, but he should be sensitive and alert to the messages that Hashem is sending him.

This can be explained in the following way. It indicates how a person should do teshuvah. If he would learn his lesson from the afflictions upon his home and from the afflictions on his body and he would cleanse himself and draw closer to Hashem, then the purpose of the afflictions would be achieved. It is told in the Gemara (Berachot 61b) about the holy Tanna Rabbi Akiva that at the time when Rabbi Akiva was taken out for execution, it was the hour for the recital of the Shema, and while they combed his flesh with iron combs, he was accepting upon himself the kingship of Heaven. His disciples said to him: Our teacher, even to this point? He said to them: All my days I have been troubled by this verse, ‘with all your soul’, [which I interpret,] ‘even if He takes thy soul’. I said: When shall I have the opportunity of fulfilling this? Now that I have the opportunity shall I not fulfill it? He prolonged the word Echad until he expired while saying it. A bat kol went forth and proclaimed: Happy are you, Akiva, that your soul has departed with the word Echad! These are the words of the Gemara.

What does it mean, “All my days I have been troubled by this verse… when shall I have the opportunity of fulfilling this?”

It seems to be that each day, when Rabbi Akiva would recite Kriyat Shema and say “And you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul,” he would intend to sacrifice himself for the sake of Heaven. But he would chide himself, perhaps his words were just lip service and only theoretical but not truly so. Who could testify that he would actually sacrifice his soul for the sake of Heaven? This distressed him all his life, until the day that he was taken out for execution and they were combing his flesh with iron combs with agonizing pain, killing him with a cruel death; at that very moment he accepted upon himself the yoke of Heaven with joy. His disciples said to him: Rabbeinu! Even to this point? To this point one must rejoice in the service of Hashem? Rabbi Akiva told them, “Certainly! And I should even rejoice more now since I discovered that I possess true self-sacrifice for Hashem, since I am prepared to sacrifice my soul for the sake of Heaven. He prolonged by the word “Echad” until his soul departed with the word “Echad,” signifying that the whole time that he was being tortured with tormenting agony, he was cleaving to Hashem in great joy because of the mitzvah that he succeeded in accomplishing.

We should learn from Rabbi Akiva, who with all his greatness did not believe in himself and would always agonize over it. How much more should we be concerned about our fear of Heaven. May we merit cleaving to Hashem and serving Him wholeheartedly. Amen!

Walking in Their Ways

A Firm Footing in Faith

When I was once receiving the public at the home of the Zer family in Bnei Brak, a woman came, wheeling in her wheelchair-bound little girl.

As soon as she walked in, the mother burst out crying bitterly. “Honored Rav,” she began. “We have tried everything to bring about my daughter’s recovery, and nothing has helped. You are our last resort.”

I was quite surprised at her words. “Why do you say that?” I asked. “There are many Rabbis and Kabbalists among our nation; who bring salvation to our people. Why don’t you ask for their blessings?”

The woman was adamant, stating that she had already gone to other Rabbis, and, l’havdil, top specialists in the field, but since her daughter had been born brain-damaged, it was impossible to cure her. They claimed she would always be an invalid. With no other recourse, the mother insisted on coming to me.

I was still shocked at her attitude. “Why do you say I am your last resort? Doesn’t the world have a Creator? One may never lose hope in His salvation.”

“Exactly. Because I have faith in the Creator, knowing that only He holds the key to my daughter’s recovery, I turn to you. Please bless her in the merit of your holy ancestors that she be completely cured. I believe that the power of your prayers can effect a salvation for my dear daughter.” Once again, she burst into heart-rending sobs, which were heard in the waiting room.

This woman’s pain touched my heart. I told her, “B’ezrat Hashem, your daughter’s condition will improve. In the merit of your faith and pain, Hashem will hear your pleas and send you salvation.” But the woman was not satisfied, insisting I give her daughter a clear blessing for recovery, that she merit standing on her own two feet.

I tried explaining to her that she had no need for my blessings, for her firm faith and the merit of her pain would stand in her stead on behalf of her daughter’s recovery. But she burst once again into uncontrollable weeping and would not be calmed until I blessed her with a recovery, bisiyata di’Shemaya.

One year later, I again found myself accepting the public for audiences at the Zer household in the Holy Land. This woman came along with her daughter, walking like anyone else.

With great emotion, the woman related that after receiving my blessing, she had lit a candle in memory of Rabbi Chaim Pinto, zy”a. Shortly afterward, her daughter stood up from her wheelchair and took her first steps to health.

Such is the power of pure, simple faith in the tzaddikim. It can reverse harsh decrees. With the power of this woman’s faith, her daughter gained, most miraculously, a complete recovery.

The Haftarah

The haftarah of the week: “There were four men who were metzorot” (Melachim II 7:3)

The connection to the parashah: The haftarah tells about the four people with tzara’at at the city gate, and the parashah discusses the subject of the metzora who had to go outside the camp.

Guard Your Tongue


There is speech that is prohibited because it falls under the category of “avak lashon hara – a tinge of lashon hara.”

For example, one who says “Who would have said about such and such that he would be as he is now?” Or, “Let’s not talk about him – I don’t want to tell you what happened and what will be,” and so on.

Likewise, praising one’s friend in front of his enemies, also is included in the category of “avak lashon hara,” since it ultimately causes them to disparage him.

Words of Our Sages

Benefiting his fellow

“And the one to whom the house belongs comes” (Vayikra 14:35)

Chazal say: Because of seven things the plague of tzara’at is incurred: one of them is a begrudging eye [Rashi: he looks at other begrudgingly and does not allow others to benefit from his possessions by lending it to them] as it is stated “And the one to whom the house belongs comes,” and the school of R. Yishmael taught: he who would reserve his house for himself, and Rashi explains: items that he uses which he didn’t lend to others [since he reserves them only for himself].

In the opinion of Rabbeinu Yonah, z”l, (Sha’arei Teshuvah 3:35), the pasuk warns “You shall surely give him, and your heart shall not be grieved when you give to him” (Devarim 15:10). We are warned, as Rabbeinu Yonah writes, to distance ourselves from a begrudging eye and to be generous, as it is stated (Mishlei 22:9), “He who has a generous eye will be blessed.” It is not sufficient just to give instinctively, therefore the pasuk warns “and your heart shall not be grieved” following the words “You shall surely give him.”

Once the Gabbai tzedaka approached the gaon Rabbi Yechezkiel Landau, zt”l, (author of “Noda B’Yehuda”), and asked him for a donation towards the mitzvah of “pidyon shevuyim” (redeeming captives), which came their way. They said that they required three hundred gold coins.

Rabbi Yechezkiel went to a nearby room and returned with many coins, altogether 290 gold coins. He stood and juggled the coins in front of the Gabbaim and said: This is my donation, and the rest others should donate”…

The Gabbaim were overjoyed over the generous donation and thanked the Rabbi. But they had a small question for him: Since he so generously opened his heart to the cause, why did he not complete the sum with the last ten gold coins. Why should they need to trouble themselves collecting further for such a small sum?

Rabbi Yechezkiel replied: Have you forgotten an explicit Mishnah (Avot 5:17):  “One who wishes to give himself but wants others not to give – he begrudges others.”

Rabbi Aharon Kotler, zt”l, would go to Cleveland from time to time to collect for his yeshiva in Lakewood. He would be accompanied by the gaon Rabbi Eliyahu Meir Bloch, zt”l, the Rosh Yeshiva of Telz in Cleveland, and he would help him facilitate his appeal, despite the fact that he shouldered the responsibility of funding his own yeshiva.

They asked him, “How could it be that as Rosh Yeshiva, who is responsible for maintaining his own yeshiva, you help arrange an appeal for a different yeshiva, the Lakewood Yeshiva? It is liable to harm the interests of your yeshiva!”

Rabbi Eliyahu replied: Our role in life is to sanctify Hashem’s Name. What difference does it make if it is through my yeshiva or through the yeshiva of Rabbi Aharon? The main thing is to sanctify His Name…”

Similarly, we find with Moreinu v’Rabbeinu, Rabbi Chananya David Pinto, shlit”a, who troubles himself to raise funds for the Torah institutions of others, despite the fact that sometimes he traveled distances to raise funds for his own institutions, but when he arrives to his destination and hears about other people’s difficulties, he seeks to assist them and recruits people to donate money for the other Torah institutions who are in need of assistance.


Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

Brit Mila Instills Faith

“And on the eighth day, the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised” (Vayikra 12:3)

Chazal say (Devarim Rabbah 6:1): Why is a baby circumcised on the eighth day? This is because Hashem has mercy on him and waits until he has strength. These are their words. Thus, only on the eighth day does an infant have the strength to be circumcised. We need to clarify, why specifically on the eighth day does he become strengthened, and not before that?

It seems that the basis for this is found in the Zohar (Tazria 44), which states as follows: The infant is circumcised specifically on the eighth day, so that the Shabbat should pass, where he receives a vital soul as a result of the sanctity of Shabbat. Once he receives this soul, then he is a living child. Similarly, the Ohr Hachaim writes (regarding Bereishit 2:20) that before the first Shabbat of Creation, the world was shaky and trembling. However, as soon as Shabbat came, the world became strengthened and stable.

Rabbi Ovadia Seforno brings another reason for circumcision on the eighth day. He states, because then the impure blood of the mother, which he nurses from, is absorbed in her intestines, and thereafter the infant becomes purified to enter the holy covenant of the Brit Milah. 

My holy forefather, Rabbeinu Yoshiyahu Pinto, ztk”l, wrote: Why is an infant circumcised shortly after leaving his mother’s womb, when he is only a few days old, and we do not wait to circumcise him when he grows older? Because, as we all know, a person cannot protect himself from his Yetzer Hara and from calamities befalling the world, unless he possesses Torah and mitzvot. The power of the Torah is so enormous and awesome, it protects him from all calamities that befall upon the world, and it serves as a shield against retribution for him, saving him from all harm and protecting him from the Yetzer Hara. Who will protect the new-born infant? How will he merit protection from all harm? He still does not possess the power of the Torah, because he is not engaged in it, and its virtues do not protect him. Therefore, Hashem commanded to circumcise the infant, and the mitzvah of Milah is so enormous that it protects him meanwhile and serves as a shield until he grows up and becomes a man who embraces the holy Torah. 

Chazak U’Baruch

An inexhaustible treasure of spiritual and material abundance awaits those who merit collecting the treasure of merits reserved for those who know the value of answering Amen after blessings that bless the Creator.

The G-dly Kabbalist, Rabbeinu Menachem Azarya of Pano, zy”a, found a wonderful allusion to this (Ma’amar “Me’ah Keshita” 86) in Shir HaShirim (Shir HaShirim 1:4), “משכני אחריך נרוצה הביאני המלך חדריו – Draw me, we will run after you; the king brought me to his chambers.” The acronym of the words משכני אחריך נרוצה spell Amen. Whoever is meticulous about answering Amen merits the continuation of the pasuk, “the king brought me to his chambers,” implying that he comes close to Hashem.

There is another allusion from the last letters of the pasuk, which spell “שחר” (morning), hinting to the custom of answering Amen after the morning blessings.

Protection from sorcery

The Chida brings in his sefer “Nachal Eshkol” another allusion from Shir HaShirim (Shir HaShirim 4:8), "אתי מלבנון כלה, אתי מלבנון תבואי תשורי מראש אמנה מראש שניר וחרמון מהררי אריות נמרים – With me from Lebanon, my bride, with me from Lebanon shall you come; you shall look from the peak of Amanah, from the peak of Senir and Hermon, from the lions' dens, from mountains of leopards.” The pasuk ends with the words "אריות מהררי נמרים" that are the acronym Amen, which signifies that the Shechinah will once again dwell upon Bnei Yisrael in the merit of answering Amen in the Batei Knesset and Batei Midrash.

In a different place (Midbar Kedumot 1:33), the Chida writes that whoever answers ninety times Amen in a day will not be harmed by sorcery. The allusion to this is: Amen is the acronym of אינו ניזוק מכישוף – will not be harmed from sorcery.

Amen for celebrations

When we bless the new month, we conclude the request – “May it be Your will… that You inaugurate this month upon us…” with the words “Now let us respond: Amen.”

A first glance, it seems that we are answering Amen to the requests we made, so that they should be fulfilled.

However, the Admor of Yaroslav explains differently:

The words “Now let us respond: Amen” are a blessing in itself; this month will only have celebrations, and each one of us answers Amen to the blessings of his fellow and his wishes, “Now let us respond: Amen” – each man to the celebration of his fellow. (Ta’amei Haminhagim 194)

Food For Thought

A Lemon for the Orange

The gaon Rabbi Avraham Pam, zt”l, related a story that happened with him, where he saw in a tangible sense the way Hashem brings consequences measure for measure.

In the month of Elul, 1966, he was far away from home and got sick with high fever. He felt ill and weakness overcame him until he felt that his end was nearing. He called for his wife, and she went to call for her neighbor’s help.

In a few moments, the Rabbanit returned with a lemon in her hand. She asked her husband to “bite” into the lemon, and with the last ounce of strength he bit the lemon and ate it at once in all its sourness and sharpness.

By the Grace of Hashem, the lemon worked wonders in his mouth, and his spirits were revived.

When he calmed down, Rabbi Pam recalled a similar event that had happened to him about twenty years earlier: He had gone to the hospital to visit one of his acquaintances who was sick, and brought him oranges. But the patient refused to eat them.

Rabbi Avraham Pam approached the sick man, who was in critical condition, and convinced him to taste the orange. The man took the orange and ate it with great pleasure (just as he had eaten the lemon), and it was evident that every drop of the juice was reviving his soul. His eyes expressed deep appreciation.

Rabbi Pam concluded: Hashem wanted to give me a reward “measure for measure’ for reviving the soul of the sick man, and He waited twenty years when I needed it, and then I was paid with a lemon for the orange...

Men of Faith

In the Beit Hamidrash of Rabbi Chaim Pinto, it was prohibited to discuss with the tzaddik any matter that was not directly related to the topic being learned in the yeshiva. All matters, whether public or private, were postponed and dealt with after the learning session, without exception.

Thus, the students in the yeshiva were surprised when they noticed a most unusual occurrence. The Rav suddenly closed his sefer during the learning session and exited the study hall. No one dared guess or ask about this strange conduct, since everyone understood that there must be a good reason for it, which they did not know.

The only one who followed the Rav out was his faithful attendant, who insisted on accompanying him. The attendant followed the Rav, until he stopped and stood on a street corner as if waiting for someone. After a few minutes, a wealthy man appeared. He never donated a coin to charity and was known by all the townspeople as being extremely stingy.

Rabbi Chaim Hagadol turned to the rich man and begged him to open his heart and his purse to the plight of the poor and donate some money to tzedakah. The wealthy man pretended not to hear the Rav and continued on his way.

Rabbi Chaim told his attendant, “Quickly, follow the man. These are his final moments on earth before he dies. See to it that he should not pass away without having someone recite the Kriyat Shema at his side!”

The attendant strode hastily after the rich man, curious to see how the matter would develop. Just as Rabbi Chaim predicted, when the rich man reached the entrance of his house, he suddenly collapsed and died on the spot. The attendant immediately began to recite Kriyat Shema upon the parting of the neshamah.

When the attendant returned to the yeshiva, the tzaddik called him and explained, “I perceived with Divine inspiration that it was decreed upon the wealthy man to die. This decree could have been annulled if he would have agreed to contribute a few coins to tzedakah, since it says ‘Charity saves one from death.” That is why I asked him to donate some money for tzedakah. It would have saved him from this fatal decree. Unfortunately, the man did not grasp this lifeline, and clung stubbornly to his errant ways. I knew that his end was near, therefore I asked you to follow him and stand at his side, so that you could recite Kriyat Shema at the parting of his neshamah.”

The news of the stingy man’s tragic passing spread throughout the city. Everyone beheld the loftiness of the tzaddik, who foresaw his death with Divine inspiration. They were also inspired by the great power of tzedakah.

From then on, everyone in Mogador made sure to have a “kupat tzedakah of Rabbi Chaim Pinto” in his house. Every time before embarking on a journey, before candle lighting on Shabbat, or in time of trouble, they would put a few coins in the tzedakah box, as it says: “Charity saves one from death.”


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