July 16, 2024 ~ Shabbat BALAQ. Maqam MAHOUR.

Shabbat Tazria - שבת תזריע



ואם לא תמצא ידה די שה - Some years ago, a synagogue in Arizona made a flyer for Yom Kippur services that required an entrance fee. I recall reading on the bottom of the flyer "Please see the Rabbi if you have difficulty with this fee; no one will be turned away due to financial reasons." This inclusive clause reflects the outreach goals of this Rabbi and is similar to another inclusive clause mentioned in the Torah. When a mother gives birth, she becomes ritually impure for either 33 days (for a boy) or 66 days (for a girl). In order to become pure again, Leviticus 12:6 states that she must offer a lamb and a dove. Leviticus 12:8 then goes on to state that if she does not have sufficient funds for a lamb (which may be too costly), she could become pure again by bringing a simple bird offering. One can learn from this that when it comes to all of our affairs, we should be sensitive to those around us and strive to always promote a more inclusive atmosphere. Beth Torah Bulletin, April 21, 2018.


שאת או ספחת או בהרת - As an introduction to an Oral Pathology course, Dr Michael A Kahn spends an entire session going over the method of how to describe a lesion. Being able to accurately describe the appearance of what you see, he stressed, allows one to get closer to making a diagnosis. In this course, for each lesion shown to us, we needed to develop the skills of writing the site, color, shape, and size in as few words as possible. As I review Leviticus 13, I am reminded of all the descriptors from Oral Pathology class; site, color (white, black, red, green, yellow), and shape. Once the lesion (described in Leviticus 13:2 as "a swelling, a rash, or a bright spot") is presented, the Torah, in as few words as possible, explains what is a natural occurrence that requires no action and what is a disease that needs to be quarantined from society. Each lesion mentioned is described very precisely in order to allow the priest to come up with a proper diagnosis. Beth Torah Bulletin, April 6, 2019.


לב טהור ברא לי אלקים ורוח נכון חדש בקרבי - To repent for his misdeeds, King David prays to "Create in me a pure heart and renew within me a correct spirit" (Psalms 51:12). The pursuit of purity is a central theme in the Torah, because it is the prerequisite to holiness (קדשים תהיו). Leviticus 12-15, in detailing purity laws, does not place judgement on those who became impure, but rather instructs on how one can recover and become pure again. This is because God is aware that in the complications of life, many things often occur that can make one impure even unintentionally. In providing these laws, God requests that everyone continue in their quests for purity and not give up trying. We learn from King David's words that it is never too late to fix oneself for even the most unclean person who has completely purged from the path can repent and wash themselves clean (תחטאני באזוב ואטהר). Beth Torah Bulletin, April 29, 2017.

Seeing the Inner Person

וְרָאָ֥הוּ הַכֹּהֵ֖ן וְטִמֵּ֥א אֹתֽוֹ - In Leviticus 13:3, the Kohen, playing the role of both doctor and teacher, examines an affliction on someone's skin and decides the diagnosis; making the person either pure or impure. Contrary to the beginning of the verse which says וראה, "and he saw," the end of the verse, says "וראהו הכהן," translated as "and the Kohen saw him." Regarding the word וראהו, Rabbi Meir Simcha of Dvinsk (1843-1926), known as the Meshekh Hokhma, comments that before the diagnosis, the Kohen sees "him," the inner person, not the affliction, and decides how to deal with the situation. For once the Kohen issues a diagnosis, it is final, and all relevant rules regarding the quarantine applies. For instance, if one is a bridegroom, during the week of his wedding, the Kohen may be inclined to delay the official diagnosis until after that week in order not to ruin his celebration. We can learn from the astute Kohen that it is important to be sensitive and always look at the inner person prior to interacting with them. Beth Torah Bulletin, April 25, 2020.

Maqam of the Week: SABA or BAYAT

2020 only- For Shabbat Tazria-Tahor (Leviticus 12:1- 15:33), there are two options in SUHV for the Maqam of the Week: Maqam SABA or BAYAT. Maqam SABA should be applied, because the perasha begins with the circumcision of the baby boy on the eighth day. In our tradition, Saba ("Sabi" in Arabic means 'boy') is reserved for the Berit Mila. The majority of sources, however, indicate to apply Maqam BAYAT. HAZZANUT: Naqdishakh: Ata Ahubi (page 410). Sephardic Pizmonim Project, www.pizmonim.com.