Tazria-Metzora (Lev. 12:1 – 15:33)



This week’s Torah portion is a double one, Tazria-Metzora.  The contents are rather “icky,” so it is good to get both sections done in one reading.

From 2015: “The text concerns ritual impurity (tumah) that results from childbirth, tzara’at, and genital discharges.  Some of the purification rituals for a metzora seem reasonable, e.g., (sliding scale, depending on means).   Tazria begins with purification after childbirth.  The rest of Tazria deals with tzara’at, a skin affliction (no, it’s not actually leprosy) and how it is diagnosed by a priest.  Tzara’at can also manifest itself as reddish or green streaks in cloth, leather, and – now we’re getting into Metzora -buildings.  Metzora further deals with purification rituals for tzara’at, including washing body and clothes, shaving head hair, isolation for a prescribed time, immersion, and offering up a burnt offering and bringing a sin offering.  The text then describes tumah from normal and abnormal genital discharges and the subsequent purification rituals.  The priest, while acting like a doctor in diagnosing tzara’at, does not cure the affliction, which is attributed to a moral failing, usually slander.  He guides the individual through the process, with the ultimate goal of re-integration into normal society and activities.

Reactions to this text vary from distastefully concrete (“Eeew!” “Yuck!” and the like), to genuinely profound.  Maimonides takes a generally concrete, rational approach (surprise):  Purity systems being common in the ancient world, it was natural for the Israelites to enact one; he also brings up dirt and sanitation issues with regard to limiting access to the Sanctuary.  Two years ago (2013), I was curious as to whether there were any parallels to tzara’at diagnosis and purification in Mesopotamian or Egyptian medicine (not really).  

“Regarding childbirth, as I summarized here last year,(2014, see also my detailed comments), ‘Basically, childbirth, places in opposition miracle and filth, heaven and earthiness, purity (the baby) and impurity (the woman, as she recovers), life and death, resulting in the strongly positive and strongly negative vibes that come through in the rabbinical texts.’”

Back to 2018:  But what does any system of purity laws really signify?  When it comes to purity and impurity systems, my go-to source is Mary T. Douglas’s book Purity and Danger: An Analysis of the Concepts of Pollution and Taboo, 1966 (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul).  (See also “READERS GUIDE TO CLEAN/UNCLEAN, PURE/POLLUTED, AND HOLY/PROFANE: THE IDEA AND SYSTEM OF PURITY,” by Jerome H. Neyrey, S.J., University of Notre Dame.) According to Douglas, “purity” is all about boundaries. What it boils down to is (thanks, Stanley) that the unclear is the unclean.  Items that cut across clearly defined categories threaten the agreed-upon social order that those categories represent and so are regarded as dangerous and “impure.” This worldview is applied to what we eat, what we wear, our houses, and people with whom we come into physical contact.  The rituals of “purification” are thus a means for dealing with anxiety resulting from the muddying of boundaries.  What does this bring to mind today?  There are always groups that are defined, identified, and separated out socially by those in power, with benign or malignant intent.  They are then often sequestered, by economics or force, and abused, physically and verbally.  Finally, they may be eradicated in an ultimate “purification” ritual.  How far this separation, or selection, process is allowed to go depends on to what extent the desire for strengthening the identity of the group in power is accompanied by paranoia and fear of those outside.

Shabbat shalom,


‘Those are salad tongs! You are not putting any goddamn kitchenware in there!’ Funniest things ever said by women giving birth


Ask Reddit invited doctors and nurses to relate the most memorable strange or funny things they have heard women say (or scream) screamed while giving birth. They received 3000 responses in 20 days.  Here is a selection.

‘When my brother was born, they had to use forceps to get him out. My mom saw them and screamed “THOSE ARE SALAD TONGS! YOU ARE NOT PUTTING ANY GODDAMN KITCHENWARE IN THERE!”‘

‘My mum apparently said, upon viewing my brother whose head and face had become rather misshapen during his protracted journey down the birth canal. “Noooo! Put it back in!”‘

‘So while this woman is pushing out her baby she begins to half tell/half scream that my roommate should date her ex/the baby daddy. The conversation went something like this:
Mom: You should really….(screams in pain)….go out with….(Screams again) him sometime. He’s really fun.
Dad: I wouldn’t mind some drinks sometime, what are you doing this evening?’

‘Patient fully dilated, started pushing, then changed her mind. “I don’t wanna do this, I’m going the f*** home.” And then tried to get off the table.’

‘I was high on meds at the time, I was begging for BBQ ribs in between contractions. “C’mon, honey! The nurses will never know!” They were standing right there.’

‘My husband told me when I was breathing the laughing gas I screamed “I’m lady Darth Vader!” as I was pushing. Then I asked the doctor if he felt my tonsils when he has his arm up there.’



Tundra Cartoon (S953) Created by Chad Carpenter on 4/24/2015 

tph stork


The other day my daughter said, “Mold is so gross.”
I told her to “respect its culture.”

submitted 3 years ago by AveryAWhiteMale


How much space is needed for fungi to grow?
As mushroom as possible.

submitted 1 year ago by Lochanside



Bay Area Home With Holes in Roof, Mildew Sells for $1.23M

Fremont home was condemned

By Newser Editors and Wire Services  Posted Apr 18, 2018 7:00 PM CDT  Updated Apr 19, 2018 3:00 AM CDT

 (NEWSER) – A condemned Northern California house with holes in the roof and mildew in the pipes sold last month for $1.23 million, a price tag that highlights how a housing shortage is fueling skyrocketing home prices in the San Francisco Bay Area. Listing agent Larry Gallegos said Wednesday he received three cash offers after listing the Fremont home in January for $1 million, the AP reports. The three-bedroom, two-bath home closed $230,000 over the asking price on March 30, said Gallegos, of Better Homes and Gardens, Reliance Partners. Two investors bought the house and plan to tear it down (They’re not going to bother to wait for a Kohen’s diagnosis. IGP) and build a 4,000-square-foot, “completely green” home they hope to put on the market within five months, Gallegos said.

He said the buyers didn’t even enter the house because they had no interest in the actual building but in its location, which could offer a view of the bay from a second story. The median home price in Fremont, which connects to Silicon Valley through several highways and with easy access to San Francisco and Oakland by train, is $1 million as of late February, according to Zillow.com, compared to $1.3 million in San Francisco and $1.28 million in Berkeley.



tph suspicious moles

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s