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Parshat Tazria/Metzora - Questions for Self Study

Questions for the Shabbat Table
Questions for Shiur Preparation
Questions on Parshanut

Part I - Questions for the 'Shabbat Table'

1. Both in the beginning of Parshat Shmini and in Parshat Metzora we find that the number eight (i.e. the eighth day) is quite significant.
Can you find a thematic connection between these two mitzvot - i.e. between the special events on Yom HeShmini in the Mishkan and brit Milah on the eighth day after a child's birth?

2. Where else in Sefer Vayikra do we find that the 'eighth day' is significant?
Can you find a connection between all of the instances?
[Be sure to note Vayikra chapter 14, especially 14:10-19, Vayikra 22:26-33 and Vayikra 23:33-39.]
Can you relate this to Breishit 17:1-10 ["brit milah" - note Hashem's Name in that "brit"] and Breishit 1:1-2:3?!

3. Today, with no Bet HaMikdash, is there any consequence should one become "tamey?"
If so, to whom and in what manner?
In the time of the Bet HaMikdash, what was forbidden for one who did became "tamey?"
Which types of "tumah" can be 'cleansed' today and how?
Which types can not, and why?
Today, is there anything that one who is "tamey" cannot do?

4. What causes "tzaraat" [leprosy]?
Does Sefer Vayikra provide a reason?
If not, why do you think that it doesn't?
Have you heard of a reason before?
If so, where is it from?
Be sure to see the Parshanut section before for a more complete discussion of this topic! [You could consider it "halacha l'maaseh."]
Note as well the story of the "tzaarat" of King Uziyahu of Yehuda, see II Divrei Ha'yamim 26:11-22.

Part II - Questions for Preparation (for weekly shiur)

1. Using a Tanach Koren, make a brief outline (as usual) of all of the parshiot of mitzvot in Sefer Vayikra, beginning in chapter 10 (i.e. the death of Nadav and Avihu) until the end of chapter 17.
Be sure to use only a one line summary for each 'parshia.'
[Look at the opening psukim of chapter 18 and explain why we concluded our outline with chapter 17.]

2. Note the 'tiny' narrative in 16:1.
Based on 16:1, where should this parshia of "avodat yom kippur" have been placed?
[Can you explain why it is placed where it is instead?]

3. Is there a common topic for all of the mitzvot from chapters 11-17?
[In other words, can you find one title for your outline?]
Can you divide the outline into several sub-categories?
If so, what are they, and what is the logic of flow from topic to topic?

4. In what manner do these mitzvot (in chapters 11-17) relate to:

    The korbanot of Yom HaShmini?
    The death of Nadav and Avihu?
    The Mishkan in general?
    The overall theme of Sefer Vayikra?

5. Review these chapters one more time, noting the headers of each "dibur" [i.e. note 10:8,12; 11:1-2; 12:1-2; 13:1; 14:1,33; 15:1-2; 16:1-2; 17:1-2].
Note both the opening psukim in each dibur, as well as the 'closing' psukim of each.
Can you explain who each "dibur" is directed to, and why?
In your opinion, when were these mitzvot first given to Moshe Rabbeinu [and/or Aharon]?
On Har Sinai? (If so, during which set of forty days?)
From the Ohel Moed? (If so, on what day?)
[Answer this question for each "dibur!"]

6. Review now your 'outline' of Sefer Vayikra from chapter 1 through chapter 17.
Can you define a common theme, and explain the logic of flow from topic to topic?

7. Based on the above, in our opinion what is the primary topic of chapter 11 - the laws of "kashrut," or the laws of "tumah?"
Explain your answer.
Compare Vayikra chapter 11 to Devarim 14:3-21.
What is the same, and what is different?
Can you explain why?
Relate as well to Shmot 22:30.

Now that you've prepared, go to the shiur.

Part III - Parshanut
1. Parshiot Tazria and Metzora discuss the laws of "tzaraat," yet they gives no explanation as to what causes it.
However in Devarim 24:8-9, the Torah seems to 'hint' to a specific reason.
Read those psukim and review Bamidbar 12:1-16 while doing so.
In your opinion (based on those psukim in Bamidbar & Devarim), what is the cause of "tzaraat?"

2. Now, let's see how the various commentators relate to this topic in Sefer Devarim.
To appreciate the various opinions, read Devarim 24:8-9 once again and carefully try to understand each phrase, and explain how each phrase relates to the next.
Be sure that you can explain how 24:9 relates to 24:8, and what the word "hishamer" implies [i.e. does it imply something you must do or something you must not do!?].

3. We'll start with Rashi on 24:8-9.
Note how Rashi begins by providing a precise explanation of what "hishamer" is referring to [basically that one should be careful not be 'his own doctor' when he sees a sign of leprosy], i.e. "hishamer" is telling you not to cut off the sign, but instead to show it to the kohanim.
Based on this, how does Rashi understand the second half of 24:8?
Now see Rashi on 24:9. According to Rashi, how do these psukim relate to one another?!
From where does Rashi learn that "lashon ha'ra" causes leprosy?
[As we continue, note how other "parshanim" answer this question.]

4. See now Ramban.
Is his pirush to 24:8 the same as Rashi's or different? Explain.
How does Ramban explain why the laws of "tzaarat" found in Sefer Vayikra are not recorded in Sefer Devarim?
Now see Ramban on 24:9.
Note how he quotes Rashi and then offers an alternate opinion [i.e. that "zachor" implies something active that one must do!].
How does he prove his opinion?
In your opinion, is Ramban's approach more methodological than Rashi's?
How does each explain the connection from 24:8 to 24:9?

[Note how Ramban considers this pasuk a 'full fledged' mitzvat asey, thus arguing with all of the others who counted the mitzvot before him.
See also Sefer Mitzvot of the Rambam, at the end of his list of mitzvot asey, where Ramban lists and explains the mitzvot which he feels that Rambam left out.
See there Ramban's addition #7!
See also Sefer HaChinuch mitzvah #584; note that he seems to disagree with Ramban.]
[Do you think that it is 'worthwhile' to be "choshesh" for the Ramban's "shita?"]

5. See Ibn Ezra on 24:9.
Note how he is short and to the point.
Why do you think that Ibn Ezra finds it important to support a Midrash from Vayikra Rabba [16:1] from these psukim in Sefer Devarim?

6. Now, for a totally different approach - see Rashbam!
How does he explain "hishamer" and the connection between 24:8 and 24:9!?
In your opinion, is Rashbam's explanation closer to "pshat?"
What do you think leads Rashbam to his pirush?

7. Finally, see Chizkuni.
In his pirush the same as Rashbam's?
If so, why do you think that he prefers Rashbam's pirush over Rashi and Ramban's?

According to Rashbam and Chizkuni, is there any connection between "tzaarat" and "lashon ha'ra?"
If so, why don't they mention it in their pirush to Devarim 24:8-9?

[The answers to this section are discussed in the TSC shiur on Parshat Ki-teyze / www.tanach.org/dvarim/kitey2.txt ]