July 16, 2024 ~ Shabbat BALAQ. Maqam MAHOUR.

Shabbat Tahor - שבת טהור


Shabbat Tahor

זאת תהיה תורת המצרע ביום טהרתו - What is the name of this week's perasha? The general rule for naming a Torah portion is to use the perasha's first distinctive word. When it comes to naming our perasha (Leviticus 14:1- 15:33), there are a few opinions. Since Leviticus 14:1 is not distinctive (וידבר ה׳ אל משה לאמר), it gets ruled out as an option. One opinion found in Mahzor Aram Soba (1560) is "Shabbat Zot;" based on the first word in Leviticus 14:2. The most common opinion based on the perasha's ninth word is "Mesora" (disease). In order to avoid using an offensive word as the title of a perasha, a different opinion is offered. Contemporary Syrian Jewish tradition, as documented in many perasha lists from Aleppo, is to refer to this as "Shabbat Tahor" (pure) or "Tehorot." This opinion, which is based on the word "Tahorato" (Leviticus 14:2), is a fitting euphemism that encapsulates the perasha's main theme of maintaining purity in a world full of disease. Tiqqun Highlights, Beth Torah Bulletin, 4/13/19.

The Proper Mindset

ועץ ארז ושני תולעת ואזב - On the day that one purifies from disease, certain items are brought to the Kohen. In addition to animal sacrifices, Leviticus 14:4 lists Cedar wood, a crimson thread, and a hyssop. What do these three items symbolize? Cedar wood, coming from a Cedar tree, may symbolize strength, dignity, and power. The crimson thread is red; the same color as blood. The hyssop shrub is a small seemingly insignificant plant. Assuming that one is struck with a disease like leprosy as a result of a punishment, these items represent the proper mindset for rejoining society. When it comes to our self-esteem, one must view themselves as unique and as strong as a Cedar. At the same time though, we must humble ourselves and consider that we are as plentiful and insignificant as hyssop. With these two opposing ideas, we must use the crimson thread to remember that all living things have the same blood and are all connected under one Creator. Beth Torah Bulletin, April 13, 2019.