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Parshas Tazria – Metzorah

April 29, 2006


Volume 20, Number 25
1 Iyar 5766

T
The Value of Wealth Contemporary
Halacha
zora’as is a form of ritual niture has been removed. injunction on the kohen
Opening Metal
Ephraim Meth

Cans on Shabbos
impurity (tumah), which Ordinarily, anything inside of affords the homeowner an
results from a nega (affliction) an afflicted house becomes opportunity to save both

L
that is inspected by a kohen tamei. Once tamei, utensils of effort and assets.
Rabbi Eli Ozarowski
ast week we discussed some of
and subsequently pronounced
Wealth is
The Medrash (Toras the opinions concerning
impure. If the kohen’s inspec- Kohanim 5:12) derives from opening bags and containers on

important
tion and pronouncement are the above law that “the Torah Shabbos; this week we will discuss
lacking, the nega alone cannot the issues related to opening metal
had mercy on Jewish assets.”
because it
cans, such as tuna or soda cans, on
cause ritual impurity. These In a similar vein, the Medrash Shabbos.
absolute requirements allow us
enables us
(Shemos Rabbah 11:3) points The earliest case discussed by the
to delay the onset of tumah in out that Hashem warned the poskim concerns the opening of
certain situations. For exam-
to better
sardine cans. The Minchas
Egyptians of the impending
Shabbos and Tehilah L’Dovid
ple, the kohen is not sup- plague of hail so that they
serve
argue that opening sealed sardine
posed to inspect afflictions could rescue their livestock. cans violates the melocha (forbid-

Hashem.
on holidays, nor should he Based on this, the Medrash den labor) of soteir, destroying.1
inspect a groom in the week concludes that Hashem also However, the Chazon Ish (51:11)
suggests that soteir is not relevant
following his wedding (Moed has mercy on non-Jewish here, because one who is opening
Kattan 7b-8a). metal and wood must be assets. The rescue of Jewish the can is not trying to destroy it;
The kohen should similarly immersed in a mikvah, and assets even possesses halachic rather, he is opening it in order to
withhold his inspection of pottery utensils must be valence; certain leniencies are use it as a vessel. Still, the Chazon
Ish maintains that it is forbidden
afflicted houses until their fur- destroyed. Therefore, the utilized only in situations of to open them for another reason.
Since many people reuse these
cans for other items, and they
continued on page 3

T
T abl e Torah Hail to the Priest therefore become functional ves-

he laws of tzora’as provide us with a house.” Only after the Kohen diagnoses the the spiritual leader of the Jewish community,
Yoni Noble continued on page 2

valuable lesson concerning the defer- red or green streaks on the wall as tzora’as can make a final assessment. Advanced
ence and respect we must give our commu- will the house and all its contents become knowledge of complex subject matter does
nity leaders. When a homeowner in Eretz contaminated. On that verse, Rashi com- not license the layman to adjudicate serious
Yisrael suspects that his house has been ments that although he may be a worthy halachik decisions; we see from these laws,
afflicted with tzora’as (Vayikra 14:35), he Torah scholar with an expertise in the laws also, without the firm guidance of a respect-
must seek out a Kohen and announce “it of tzora’as, the homeowner can only assert ed leader, a community is at risk of fragmen-
appears to me that tzora’as might be on my that their might be tzora’as. Only the kohen, tation and disorder.

NEW YORK CITY SHABBOS TIMES


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This issue is sponsored in honor of the recent engagement of Ben Hutt and Dalya Bryk. Mazel Tov!
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Opening Metal Cans on Shabbos

I
continued from page 1
A Reassessment of Tzora’as sels once opened, we are concerned quoted above (Beitzah 33b), per-
that opening them might violate mitted to be opened on Shabbos.
the prohibition of asiyas pesach, Therefore, he says we shouldn’t
n 1868 the British govern- whelming number of proofs
David Moster

making a nice opening in a vessel. protest to those that open cans on


ment published a paper to show that the physicians’ The source of this prohibition is Shabbos, though he suggests that it
entitled “Report on Leprosy hypothesis was problematic: based on the Gemara (Beitzah 33b) is better to open the can only
halfway, disarming the can of its
by the Royal College of (1) the metzora whose body that says that breaking a barrel is
only permitted in the case of a functional ability.
Physicians” with the intent of was completely infected with
musteki, an unsturdy and crude R' Shlomo Zalman Auerbach
notifying the public that lep- tzora’as was declared pure container consisting of many (Maor HaShabbos p.490) deals with
rosy is not an infectious dis- and allowed to live in society, pieces of wood glued together, the case of soda cans, and also
ease. The physicians also even though he should have because we are not concerned that rules leniently for the reason cites
one will make a nice opening;
claimed, based on the con- been considered the most above – people throw these cans
according to Rashi’s interpretation out. He also notes that there is no
tent of this week’s parshiyos, “contagious”; (2) even if a there, it would be forbidden to issue of violating the melocha of
that the “Jews considered it person was clearly afflicted break open a regular barrel because mechateich (measured cutting),
to be [infectious], and that with tzora’as, he wasn’t quar- one might make a nice opening in because one generally doesn’t care
the strictest quarantine was antined until a kohen official- the process, violating the prohibi- where the can opens; it happens to
tion of tikkun kli (making a vessel). open along the tab, because that is
imposed upon those who ly declared him impure; (3) if
R’ Binyamin Zilber (Shut Az the prefabricated route designed
contracted it.” The physicians there was even a minimal Nidberu 11:12) adopts this position into the can’s design.
understood doubt that as well, though he permits opening Today, since people do not reuse
the term Tzora’as was a the tzora’as the can by way of destruction in a their tuna or sardine cans after the
“tzora’as” was another time of great need, which does not
disease of a constitute tikkun kli.
food has been emptied, it is possi-
used in the type of dis- ble that even the Chazon Ish would

Torah as
spiritual nature, ease, the Other poskim take a more lenient agree that opening these types of

referring to caused by a kohen was


approach. R’ Moshe Feinstein
(Igros Moshe, Orach Chaim 1:122)
cans is permitted. Nevertheless,
some contemporary poskim sug-
leprosy, and litany of social obligated to argues that opening these cans gest being stringent, if possible, in
they assumed transgressions, declare the should, in theory, be permissible order to avoid this question.

that was
since they are comparable to the
that the pre- person We have seen in the past few weeks
case in the Shulchan Aruch (314:8, that minor differences in the manu-
scription of expressed pure, ensur- based on Shabbos 146b) of closed facturing of various food contain-
quarantine ing that the
was meant to
through physical “suspi-
baskets used to hold dates, which
are permitted to be opened on
ers can create major halachik dis-
tinctions. Since many of these
isolate and symptoms. cious” per- Shabbos. This is because, as R’ cases are debated by the poskim,
Moshe explains, the baskets are
get rid of the son was made specifically for the dates and
and since the halachik distinctions
between the cases are subtle and
disease. They also felt that allowed to remain in society; will not be used for anything else not always recognized, it is recom-
the kohanim, who were given (4) a gentile who contracted afterwards. Therefore, the baskets mended that, ideally, one should
the exclusive rights to exam- tzora’as was never quaran- are batel (subservient) to the dates, open all of the food utensils prior
and there is no problem of opening
ine and declare the metzora tined; (5) the kohanim would them in order to remove the dates.
to Shabbos.
(one afflicted with tzora’as) never check for tzora’as on However, as we saw last week
impure, served as communal the holidays, a time when the regarding the opening of bags that 1. See Rabbi Joseph Stern’s article on this
topic in the RJJ Journal, Spring 1983,
physicians. Following his entire nation gathered and contain food, in practice, R’ Moshe
p.70.
rules that it is forbidden to open
presentation of the physi- infection would most likely this vessel out of the concern that 2. See Rabbi Mordechai Willig’s Am
cians’ theory, Rav Shimshon spread; (6) a bridegroom with people will come to confuse this Mordechai al Maseches Shabbos p. 158
Raphael Hirsch proceeds to tzora’as was not checked by with similar cases that are genuine-
for a more detailed analysis of this tal-
mudic passage.
explain how their under- the kohen until the conclu- ly forbidden.
3. Though the Chazon Ish does say that
standing of our parshiyos sion of the seven festive wed- R’ Yaakov Breisch (Chelkas Yaakov he is not sure whether our case is com-
3:8) employs an argument similar to
was mistaken; in fact, tzora’as ding days; and lastly, (7) no parable, even if people don’t keep these
that of R’ Moshe; however, he cans. See Chelkas Yaakov 3:8:10.
is not a contagious disease. metzora was quarantined entertains the possibility that these 4. See, for example, R’ Ribiat in The 39
Rav Hirsch brings an over- unless he lived in a city with a cans possibly fall under the catego- Melachos (p.840) and R’ Neustadt in
continued on page 3 ry of a musteki, which the Gemara The Weekly Halachic Discussion (p.137).
EINAYIM L’TORAH • 2
A Reassessment
vhv, ohn, of Tzora’as
wall from the times of Yehoshua ben encouraged the metzora to ponder his individual, just as the metzora was given
continued from page 2

Nun. Furthermore, as Rambam points actions. This also explains the necessity tzora’as as a direct result of the lashon
out in the final halacha of Tumas for a kohen to declare the metzora
hara he spoke (Rashi). We are also
Metzora, tzora’as even infected clothing impure and place him in isolation. As
and buildings, demonstrating that it was the symbol of divine service, the kohen reminded that the ability to adjust our
continued from page 1

a completely unnatural phenomenon. was in a position to stir the people to lifestyles is in our own hands, just as the
Although it is true that tzora’as was a repentance. By separating from society,
metzora, through a detailed repenting
dermatological ailment, it was by no the quarantined metzora would be bet-
ter equipped to ponder and reconsider process, could gain atonement. Finally,
means “contagious.” It was a disease of
a spiritual nature, caused by a litany of his direction in life. the Torah, in this week’s parsha, is also
social transgressions (most notably Although tzora’as no longer exists, it is offering an effective way of recovering
lashon hara), that was expressed also not a mere relic of days gone by.
from a low point: via contemplation of
through physical symptoms. Rav Hirsch When reading this week’s parshiyos, we
explains that G-d kindly bestowed upon are reminded that G-d pays close atten- the past and resolution for the future —
the sinner a physical “warning” that tion to the actions of each and every pertinent lessons for any day and age.
The Value of Wealth
“hefsed merubah,” potentially major Hashem and merit the world to come.” tion to divine honor, it should surely be
continued from page 1

financial loss. An alternate approach argues that wealth accepted for forming the klei shareis.
This theological value of wealth can be is a prerequisite for performing certain However, the Medrash may not have
viewed in a purely practical light. mitzvos. If Jews are wealthy, they can give meant to address the intrinsic value of
Without wealth, our lives would be very more charity and support more Torah Jewish wealth. Rather, it intended to
difficult, and this being the case, our serv- institutions. Moreover, Jewish wealth teach a moral lesson about concern for
ice of Hashem might suffer. Therefore, generates greater honor for Hashem in others’ property. Consider that the Torah
wealth is important because it enables us the world—the Beis haMikdash must be demands us to spend one third of out
to better serve Hashem. Rambam glorious and imposing because it helps assets on mitzvos aseh (positive com-
(Peirush haMishnayos, Sanhedrin ch. 10) support Hashem’s honor. Unfortunately, mandments), and to forfeit our entire
articulates this approach, explaining that this approach does not jibe with the estate before transgressing a negative
“man cannot perform mitzvos when he is Talmud’s statement that the vessels of commandment (see Bava Kamma 9b).
sick, starving, thirsty, embattled, or the Beis ha-Mikdash (klei shareis) are This cannot be classified as ‘mercy on
besieged. Therefore, He guaranteed that manufactured from relatively inexpensive Jewish wealth’. The Torah records how
these afflictions will remove themselves, metals because the Torah had mercy on Hashem spared the Egyptians’ cattle and
that man will be healthy and at peace, so Jewish assets (Yoma 39a). If Jewish the pottery of a metzorah to teach us not
that he may complete his knowledge of wealth is only valuable for its contribu- to treat the money of others lightly.

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PARSHAS TAZRIA – METZORAH •3


Parsha Points in Tazria – Metzorah
Ephraim Meth
• Childbirth confers a state of ritual impurity on the mother. She must bring an olah and a chattos after 40 days (for a
male) or 80 days (for a female).

• A nega (affliction) can cause tzora’as in clothes, houses, and people. The nega may appear on smooth skin, hair, a
bald scalp, or healed burns or wounds. Einayim L’Torah
500 W. 185th Street
• Tzora’as is a form of tumah (ritual impurity).
New York, NY 10033
• A nega tzora’as must always appear deeper than its surroundings. www.einayim.org
• Depending on its setting, the nega’s color and the presence of colored hairs contribute to its tzora’as status. editor@einayim.org
• A nega that expands is automatically considered tzora’as. A kohen checks for expansion every seven days for up to
Editor in Chief
three weeks. Editors In Chief
Yehuda Brand
• A human metzora must tear his clothes, cover his lips, and verbally proclaim his impure status. He may not cut his Yehuda Brand
hair, nor may he enter the Jewish camp (i.e. walled cities in Israel). M a n a g i nFriedman
Pinchas g Editor
Joshua S. Weinberg
• Garments with tzora’as are burned. Houses with tzora’as are demolished, and their ruins are removed from walled Executive Editors
cities. Zev
E x e cKoller
utive Editors
• Even pure nega’im are removed from the garment or the house and destroyed. DovidVogel
Josh Skversky
Zev Koller
Josh Weinberg
• The Torah describes the offerings for purifying a metzora, which varies depending on his financial standing. In addi-
Dovid
Oren Kaufman Skversky
tion to the offerings, the metzora must immerse himself and his clothes twice (one week apart) and shave all his
hair.
Oren Kaufman
Literary Editors
• The Torah discusses the laws of ritual impurity associated with bodily discharges (zav, zavah, and niddah). Different LEitan
i t e r a rBitter
y Editors
types of contact with discharges convey different levels of ritual impurity. The Torah describes the immersion proce- Eitan Bitter
Yossi Farkas
dure and offerings that are brought in order to resume a state of purity. Yossi Farkas
Yosef Lindell
Yosef Lindell
Jonah Shulman
Jonah Shulman
Public Relations
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EINAYIM L’TORAH • 4 PARSHAS TAZRIA – METZORAH