Tazria 5775

This week’s parshah discusses at length all the different types of Tumah that apply to people. The concepts of Tumah and Taharah are difficult to understand. What does it mean when someone is impure? Besides the practical halachos, what is the difference if a person is pure or not? Secondly, why does a person return to a state of purity when he goes to the mikvah?

The deeper understanding of Tumah can be learned from a posuk in last week’s parshah. In parshas Shemini, the Torah writes “ונטמתם בם” – and you will become impure through them. The word “ונטמתם” is missing an “א”. If we translate the word literally, it means and you will become blocked up through them (Yoma 39a).

This alludes to the idea that impurity is a blockage.  When someone becomes impure, there is something blocking his own personal connection to Hashem. 

Someone who is pure, on the other hand, has a clear connection between himself and Hashem.

The pathway to purity is by immersing in the mikvah.

This signifies a rebirth, similar to when the world was created. At that time, the world was completely covered with water and the landmass rose up out of the water. When a person immerses in the mikvah and then rises above the water he emerges a new person, in a state of purity, where he has a clear connection to Hashem.

The gemara teaches that bad character traits also block a person’s connection to Hashem. But with bad traits, dipping in the mikvah cannot restore one’s state of purity. The gemara (Berachos 15a) derives that “tents” have the power the power to purify a person. This means that when someone enters the tents of Torah and delves into his learning, however long and at whatever level, this has the power to purify his character traits.

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