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Tazria(Leviticus 12-13)

Giving Is Living

All the days that the affliction is upon him he shall remain contaminated; he is contaminated. He shall dwell in isolation; his dwelling shall be outside the camp. (Lev. 13:46)

The Rabbis (1) tell us that the punishment of the metzora (a person struck with leprosy) is equivalent to death. What is so awful about his predicament?

The biggest pleasure one can have comes from what he does for others. The pleasures one seeks for himself are short-lived and usually do not live up to expectations, sometimes causing him more misery than pleasure. When one helps another the pleasure is deeper and longer lasting. It is life giving.

The metzora is prohibited from associating with the rest of Israel as the verse states, "He shall dwell in isolation." One who is disqualified from being with fellow human beings is unable to lend a helping hand to a friend and is 'considered as if he were dead.' His existence ceases to be meaningful.

There are three others whom the Sages also consider dead: a pauper, a blind man and one who is childless. The pauper doesn't have enough to give to others. The blind man doesn't see someone else's pain and therefore can't have sympathy and help him. One who is childless is considered dead since a person's instincts of kindness and giving are directed towards his children.

All of these four have one common denominator: they are crippled in their ability to relate to others and share in their suffering, so they are unable to give and bestow kindness upon others. They all suffer from the curse of "he shall dwell in isolation." The only life worth living is a life of sharing and giving.(2)


1. Four people are considered as if they are dead: a pauper, a metzora (leper), a blind man and one who is childless. (Nedarim 64b)

2. R' Chaim Shmulevitz.




April 7, 2013

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Visitor Comments: 5

(5) Debra Beltz, April 11, 2013 5:25 PM

These are things pertaining to the spirit.

Hopeful this comment will help.
When speaking of being "Metzora" being poor, blind, and barren are in referance to our spiritural condition. Being poor in our understanding, blind to the truth taught in the Torah and Barren (unable to give birth to anothers spiritural needs as giving birth to a child) create this manifestation in the skin to get the attention of the one afflected to seek healing in this area. therefore the isolation in that day, can also be assocated with the isolation we will feel when convection of what we have done comes to our understanding. At least this is the way of my understanding, of what has been written here. hope this helps. Shalom, Debra

(4) Mary Jo, April 10, 2013 5:09 AM


Just because a person is blind, poor or childless, does not mean that they have NO love to give - I totally disagree - those who love the L-rd are rich in everything. For example I had a housekeeper who is a pauper, but she knew how to give. She would say from time to time 'I want to give you a day's work as a gift'. I.also have a brother in law who is a victim of "retinitis
pigmentosa" becoming blind 30 yrs. ago, and he is a giving person. He has an equipment which records with cassetts, so he records music for his brother and radio programs with Torah studies. I know women who have no children and they are givi ng people.No, I have experienced the opposite of what you have expressed here. People who love the L-rd know how to give!

(3) kayla, April 9, 2013 3:51 PM

please consider who is reading this

Even though it may be true about a childless person, please remember that so many people read this and there are people who desperately want children who are reading this and crying even more than they normally do (because of what they are reading here). The same for a blind person. Why give more pain to someone? These kinds of things are better left unsaid.

(2) Anonymous, April 8, 2013 7:13 PM

Hard to accept

If I am to take this literally I am at a loss on how to accept this as living an Torah life. Please give more insight as to how human beings can be considered "As if they are dead"

(1) Anonymous, April 8, 2013 1:10 PM

As a person who was wished to be isolated and poor, I have overcome many obstacles. However, I am still single and unemployed. Can you suggest ways to behave with chessed everyday?

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