IN a non-leap year Tazria is invariably joined to the following sedra, Metzora. However as this is a leap year, it is read alone.

This is a bit like Morecambe without Wise! There is, however, ‘good news’ in the fact that Tazria is a short sedra — a mere 67 verses!

After discussing laws pertaining to childbirth — such as the requirement to bring a post-natal sacrifice and the requirement to circumcise a male child, the main part of the sedra discusses tzaraat.

This is a disease that does not occur today. It affects a person’s skin, a house and clothes. It is sometimes translated as leprosy but bears no relation to the disease of that name prevalent today.

It was a sort of ‘spiritual affliction’ — often visited upon the patient as a punishment for lashon hara (disparaging or evil talk).

Interestingly, however, it sometimes happened that when a house had to be demolished due to being infected with tzaraat, they would discover hidden treasure left by the fleeing Amorites.

Only a Kohen could diagnose it, not a doctor. The Torah prescribes sacrifices and purification as well as a period of isolation should it affect a person’s skin.

As the four parshiot have now concluded, there is no second Scroll.

This is the first time in 10 years that Tazria has been read on its own and not been the last of the four parshiot.

Thus it is also the first time in 10 years that we read the haftora of Tazria. Next Shabbat is Shabbat Hagadol. There are now just eight shopping days till Pesach.

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