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Publisher’s Foreword

Shabbos Parshas Tzav
Parshas Zachor
13th Day of Adar II, 5744

Esther — Week of the Jewish Woman

Purim, 5744

Yechidus
Eve of 17th of Adar II, 5744

Shabbos Parshas Shemini
Parshas Parah
20th Day of Adar II, 5744

Shabbos Parshas Tazria
Parshas HaChodesh
27th Day of Adar II, 5744

The Letter Sent Out by the Lubavitcher Rebbe
for Rosh Chodesh Nissan, 5744

The Letter Sent Out by the Lubavitcher Rebbe
for the 11th Day of Nissan, 5744

11th Day of Nissan, 5744
82nd Birthday of the Lubavitcher Rebbe

Shabbos Parshas Acharei
Shabbos HaGodol
12th Day of Nissan, 5744

Tzivos Hashem
18th Day of Nissan, 5744

Acharon Shel Pesach
22nd Day of Nissan, 5744

Unity Through Rambam

Yechidus
Eve of 25th of Nissan, 5744

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Mevorchim Chodesh Iyar
26th Day of Nissan, 5744

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3rd Day of Iyar, 5744

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The Letter Sent Out by the Lubavitcher Rebbe
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Sichos In English
Excerpts of Sichos delivered by The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson
Vol. 20 — Adar II-Iyar, 5744


Shabbos Parshas Tazria
Parshas HaChodesh
27th Day of Adar II, 5744


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1. On this Shabbos we read parshas HaChodesh, to which there are two aspects:

    1) Parshas HaChodesh is the conclusion of the four parshas: parshas Shekalim, parshas Zachor, parshas Parah and parshas HaChodesh. These parshas are special events in the year, for each express special significance in their meanings, and each of them correspond to one of the four letters of G-d’s Name.

    2) Parshas HaChodesh is the first and “head” of all the months of the coming year, as written (Shmos 12:2): “This month shall be the head of months for you; it shall be the first of the months of the year.” “Chodesh” means (also) “new,” and on Shabbos parshas HaChodesh, new strength is given for service in all the months of the coming year to ensure that it be performed in the loftiest fashion (to the extent that it be done in a new manner).

Because everything in Torah is exact, it is logical to suppose that these two aspects of parshas HaChodesh are related: Parshas HaChodesh is the “head” and “first” of the months also in relation to the fact that it is the conclusion of the four parshas. In other words, the theme of the four parshas (exemplified by parshas HaChodesh, the conclusion of the four) extends throughout the year just as parshas HaChodesh, in its capacity as the head of the year, affects the whole year.

That these two aspects are related answers the following question: All holy matters are connected to G-d’s holiness, as written (Vayikra 11:44): “You shall sanctify yourselves and be holy, for I am holy.” Since G-d is infinite, holy matters must also possess the element of infinity. How then can any holy matter have a conclusion — in our case, the conclusion of the four parshas?

However, any “conclusion” is but a conclusion of a particular step on the ever ascending ladder of holiness. In our case, that parshas HaChodesh is the “conclusion” of the four parshas means simply that it is the conclusion before beginning a new, loftier step in service to G-d. Thus a “conclusion” serves as a “descent” for the specific purpose of then ascending to an infinitely higher level.

The particular greatness of the new step beginning with parshas HaChodesh is that parshas HaChodesh is associated with Rosh Chodesh Nissan (and therefore it is read on the Shabbos which blesses the month of Nissan, or, when Rosh Chodesh falls on Shabbos, on Rosh Chodesh Nissan itself). Nissan is the “month of redemption,” and in the redemption. everything will be in a state of perfection.

This Shabbos possesses other aspects in addition to parshas HaChodesh:

    1) It is Shabbos parshas Tazria.

    2) It is the 27th of Adar.

    3) It is Shabbos parshas HaChodesh of a leap year.

Each of these contains lessons for service to G-d, and, in addition, the coincidence of all of them on the one Shabbos provides another directive.

The first lesson to be explored comes from parshas HaChodesh, for it is the special aspect of this Shabbos. Shabbos Mevarchim happens eleven months a year (the month of Tishrei is blessed not by Jews, but by G-d), and 12 times in a leap year. Parshas HaChodesh, in contrast, is but “once a year.

“HaChodesh” is cognate to the term “chodesh,” which means “new.” The lesson from parshas HaChodesh is that a Jew’s service must always be performed in a new manner: i.e. to do new things.

This lesson applies to actual deed, and is relevant for even simple Jews, for even the simplest person sees that there is a difference between doing a new thing and doing an old one.

Hence, although we are in exile when “darkness covers the earth,” and a Jew may think that it is sufficient if he manages to just keep up in things without adding new ones, Torah instructs that one must constantly innovate. A Jew’s function is to be “a partner with G-d in creation,” and therefore, just as G-d “renews in His goodness the work of Creation each day, continuously,” so G-d’s partner, the Jew, must perform his service in a new manner.

Further, even when yesterday he innovated something in his service, he must today innovate a further matter; and in each day itself, the innovation of one moment must be followed in the next moment by another innovation. A Jew, however, raises a cry of anguish at this: Just now, he says, I did a new service; why is it demanded again to innovate further? The answer is simple: Just as G-d renews creation each day and each moment, although He renewed it just the day before and the moment before, so a Jew must each day and moment introduce a new element into his service to G-d.

A Jew should do this every moment of the day: Not just at the beginning of the day, when, since he has not yet began to engage in worldly affairs, it is easier to engage in holy matters, but also during the day, when it is more difficult since he is engaged in mundane affairs.

There is another aspect to the above lesson that a person’s service should be in a new fashion. Chassidus in some places differentiates between something that is actually new and the renewal of something that is old. The renewal by G-d of the creation every moment is of the latter category, for the creation existed before it was renewed. The former category, an actually new creation, will exist in the future, as written (Yeshayahu 66:22): “The new heavens and the new earth I shall make.”

However, in other places, Chassidus makes no such distinction, and regards both forms as being equally new. Moreover, even in those Chassidic discourses which make the above distinction between something actually new and renewal of the old, the latter is still termed “new.” Since a thing’s name reflects its nature, the fact that the renewal of the old is called “new” — and another term is not given to it — shows that its true nature is indeed the element of “newness.”

What this teaches in terms of man’s service to G-d is that new service means not just doing completely new things, but also to renew service done previously — to perform them in a completely new manner. In other words, there are aspects of service which are actually new, and others which are “as new”; and even the latter category must be done in a completely new manner.

A simple example of this is prayer. In the Amidah prayer of Shabbos — of Maariv, Shacharis, Mussaf, and Minchah — the first three and last three blessings are an example of “renewal of the old,” for these blessings are recited also on weekdays: the middle blessing alone is absolutely new, said only on Shabbos. Yet, all the blessings — the first and last three as well as the middle one — are said with the same fervor and life, for in all of them a Jew must pray “as a servant standing before his master.”

Thus there is no difference between service that is actually new and service that is a renewal of what has been before. And therefore the concept of “HaChodesh” can be extended throughout the year, despite the seeming contradiction between it being present the whole year and yet simultaneously being new — for “renewal” is identical to new.

Parshas HaChodesh is associated with Nissan, the month of redemption, which symbolizes miraculous conduct. In terms of man’s service to G-d, it represents service transcending all limits — i.e., not just new service, but one that transcends all constraints.

Special strength is given to Jews so that their service be new, transcending all limits. It is written: “This month shall be the head of months for you,” and the Midrash (Shmos Rabbah 15:23) says: “They shall be only for you, and not for strangers with you” — meaning that special strength is given to Jews to carry out the service of “This month shall be the head of months.”

Through service transcending limits we effect that the future redemption also be transcendent of all limits — in a miraculous fashion, as written: “As in the days of your going out from Egypt shall show wonders.”

* * *
2. There is also a lesson to be learned from the weekly parshah, Tazria.

“Tazria” derives from the root “Zeriah,” which means “sowing.” Two aspects are present in sowing:

    1) Sowing is not a one-time affair, but continues to exert an effect even afterwards, similar to seeds which when sown in the ground lead to growth;

    2) The purpose of sowing is to harvest produce of a much greater amount than that sown. In the words of the Gemara (Pesachim 87b): “Surely a man sows a ‘se’ah’ in order to harvest many ‘kor.”‘

The lesson from this is that all aspects of man’s service should be in the manner of “sowing”: A Jew may not remain content with a one-time effort, but instead, that effort should produce growth. Moreover, the growth produced should be in a large amount. In the words of the Rebbe Rashab: A Jew should be a “light to illuminate,” giving light to other Jews, and in such a way that they in turn become “lights to illuminate,” ad infinitum — similar to sowing seeds, which produce fruit which contain seeds, which in turn produce fruit, ad infinitum.

Since this year we read parshas Tazria on Shabbos parshas HaChodesh, there must be a connection between them. That connection will become clear by first understanding the saying of our sages that sowing should be done in the manner of “having faith in Him who lives forever, and [then] sow.”

Sowing is a natural phenomenon: One puts seed in ground which is fit for supporting growth, and then the earth naturally brings forth abundant produce. It is not a new phenomenon; it is an everyday event. Yet the Talmud (Shabbos 31a), on the verse (Yeshayahu 33:6) “He shall be the faith of your times, a stone of salvation, wisdom and knowledge,” says that “faith” corresponds to the “order of Zeraim” (of the six orders of Mishnah). Of all the six orders of Mishnah, why is Zeraim most closely related to faith? Surely faith is more related to the order of Moed, which deals with the festivals of G-d, or to the other orders which explain the Torah’s laws. “Zeraim” — “Sowing,” which is a natural phenomenon which occurs all the time, seems to have the weakest relationship to faith!

The answer to this paradox is that a Jew must conduct himself in the manner of “having faith in He who lives forever, and sows.” A 119-year old Jew, who has spent tens of years in sowing and harvesting, must have faith in G-d when he goes to sow his field. His faith is the guarantee that the seed will not go to waste. Growth occurs when the seed sown first rots in the ground. Without faith in G-d that He will bring forth produce from the seed, a person would not do anything so foolish as to intentionally ruin seed by putting it into the earth!

But the Yetzer Hora (Evil Inclination) says to this Jew: Why do you need faith? You have seen over the course of many years that it is natural for seed to produce growth. The Jew answers: So what? Who says this time it will happen in the same way?

But, continues the Yetzer Hora, Torah itself says there is a concept of a “Chazakah” which is established after 3 years — and thus in this case, there is a “chazakah” that seed will put forth produce. The Jew answers: What has a “chazakah” to do with nature? G-d renews creation ex nihilo every moment. That seeds turn into produce naturally will not help if G-d at the moment I am sowing seed is creating the world from naught. And what will a “chazakah” help, when Mt. Sinai, with the Torah, with the laws of “chazakah,” need to be renewed by G-d?

Moreover, says the Jew, we find in the Zohar (I, 199b) that when R. Yesse the elder would enter his house and see his food ready on the table, he would not eat before he prayed to G-d for his food. Why did he do so although the food was there before him? The Baal Shem Tov taught that G-d renews creation ex nihilo every moment. Thus, although at that moment the food was on the table before R. Yesse, G-d would have to renew creation at the next moment. G-d would create R. Yesse, the food, the table upon which the food was set — and that all these should coincide together. It is no wonder therefore that R. Yesse prayed to G-d for such a “miracle”!

Now we can understand the connection between parshas Tazria and parshas HaChodesh. Although sowing is an event that happens all the time, an element of newness is nevertheless present. And it also emphasizes the lesson elaborated on above that things which are but a renewal of the old must be done in a completely new manner.

What is the lesson to be learned from the coincidence of parshas HaChodesh and parshas Tazria? Parshas HaChodesh teaches that all aspects of service should be performed in a new manner. Parshas Tazria teaches that all aspects of service should be performed in a manner of sowing — to be “lights to illuminate,” producing much “fruit.” The coincidence of these teaches that it is not enough to innovate, to perform one’s service in a new manner, but one must “sow” this innovation i.e., to see to it that other Jews’ service should also be in a new manner. On the other hand, one’s “sowing” should be done in a new manner — i.e., in abundant measure, transcending all limits. Although this is a result of G-d’s blessings, nevertheless, these blessings are bestowed only after the person sows in a manner suitable to receive those blessings.

3. There is a further lesson to be derived from parshas Tazria. “Tazria,” the name of the parshah, appears in the verse (Vayikra 12:2), “When a woman conceives seed,” and indeed, the word “Tazria” itself is feminine tense. “Woman” corresponds to the community of Israel (man corresponding to G-d), and the concept of “Tazria” refers to the Rerviee of .Jews.

A Jew, knowing that his service is possible only with G-d’s blessings and strength, as written: “The L-rd your G-d shall bless you in all that you shall do” and “It is the blessings of the L-rd which make one prosperous,” may think that he need not work hard in his service: It is enough to but prepare the “plate” for G-d’s blessings. “Tazria” teaches otherwise: All aspects of service are named after the woman (Israel) — “Tazria,” feminine tense, and “when a woman shall conceive seed” — and it is therefore incumbent upon a Jew to do his utmost in performing his service to G-d. It is not enough to prepare a “plate;” one must prepare a whole set table.

In greater clarification: In a husband-wife relationship, the man earns the living, but the woman prepares the food ready for eating. In bearing children, it is the woman who fulfills the main part, for it is she who carries the embryo in her womb for nine months, and she who actually gives birth. That is why having a child is named after the woman — “When a woman conceives seed.”

There are, it is true, 3 partners in a child: father, mother, and G-d. But the main burden is carried by the woman, both in regard to the pain of pregnancy and the pain of birth, and earlier, in regard to family purity.

So too in regard to G-d and the community of Israel, who are compared to man and wife. Service is performed with G-d’s strength, but simultaneously, our sages say, “everything is in the hands of heaven except for the fear of heaven.”

Further, the service of Jews affects G-d Himself, as it were. The root of man’s fulfillment of mitzvos is G-d’s fulfillment of mitzvos. Our sages say (Berachos 6a) that G-d puts on tefillin, and performs all mitzvos. The verse (Tehillim 147:19) states: “He tells His words to Yaakov, His statutes and His ordinances to Israel” — implying that G-d, too, performs the mitzvos He gives to the Jews. The fulfillment of mitzvos by Jews is therefore based on the fact that “What He does, He tells Israel to do.” But simultaneously, a Jew’s service infuses a totally new aspect into G-d’s mitzvos, elevating them to a higher level.

Moreover, it is Jews who make this world a dwelling place for G-d, by performing mitzvos clothed in physical materials: Tefillin, for example, are made from the skin of an animal.

The additional lesson from parshas Tazria is thus the emphasis on the loftiness of man’s service below, to the extent that although it is done with G-d’s strength, it is named after the Jews “When a woman conceives seed.”

What does this teach us in simple terms? A Jew may think that it is all right to engage in spiritual pursuits, but not to stoop to engage in material pursuits, to the extent of leather-working to make tefillin? He claims that Torah itself says (Kiddushin 82b): “Happy is he whose craft is that of a perfume-maker, and woe to him who is a tanner by trade.” And, says the same Gemara, one who is a tanner may not be appointed king or High Priest.

The answer to this is that this same Gemara also says: “The world cannot exist without ... a tanner.” In terms of man’s spiritual service, this means that one must work with material things to make this world a dwelling place for G-d. Why then does Torah say “Woe to him who is a tanner by trade” — especially since “the world cannot exist without a tanner,” a person who is needed not just for mundane things, but also for mitzvos (tefillin)? If someone must be a tanner in any case, why depress that person unnecessarily by saying “Woe to him”?

However, Torah intends that when a Jew knows that Torah says “Woe to him who is a tanner,” he will be a “tanner” only in name — for when a Jew is a tanner for a holy purpose, to make tefillin, his true occupation is to allow Jews to fulfill the mitzvah of tefillin!

There is also a lesson to be derived from today’s date, the 27th of Adar. When, as today, Shabbos Mevarchim Nissan is the 27th of Adar, Rosh Chodesh Nissan (“This month shall be the head of months for you”) is Tuesday, the third day of the week, when “it was good” was said twice — “good for heaven and good for creatures.”

This is also connected to parshas Tazria, the theme of which is service in the manner of “sowing,” to influence other Jews to do good. And this is the concept of “good for heaven and good for orontilrp one does not remain satisfied with one’s own spiritual progress (“good for heaven”), but endeavors that others also advance in service to G-d (“good for creatures”).

The above connection is further emphasized according to the opinion (Rosh HaShanah 11a) that the world was created in Nissan, for then the 27th of Adar is the third day of creation, the day when “it was good” was said twice, and the day when G-d said, “Let the earth sprout forth vegetation, seedbearing plants and fruit trees.”

Also as noted on previous occasions, this year is a leap year, which reconciles the solar and lunar years, which correspond to different aspects of man’s service.

When all today’s aspects coincide on parshas HaChodesh, it teaches that they all should be performed in a new manner, transcending all limits — in a miraculous manner (“Nissan”). In addition, each aspect acts on the others, and will together have a synergistic effect.

4. As customary, we shall now analyze Rashi’s commentary on a verse of our parshah, parshas Tazria. The parshah deals with the different types of leprosy, and what signs indicate that a person is clean or unclean. There are three consecutive verses — verses 39, 40 and 41 of ch. 13 — in which the words “he is clean” appear. If the skin of a man’s or woman’s body has white spots, verse 39 says that “The priest shall examine it: if the skin has dull white spots, it is a rash (bohak) that has broken out on the skin; he is clean.” Verse 40 says: “If a man loses the hair on his head, he is bald (kereach); he is clean.” Verse 41 says: “If he loses hair from the front of his face, he has a hairless forehead (i.e., a receding hairline — gibeach); he is clean.”

Of these three verses, all of which say “he is clean,” Rashi comments only on the middle verse (verse 40), on the words, “he is bald; he is clean.” This indicates that the meaning of the previous verse (verse 39), “It is a rash that has broken out on the skin; he is clean,” is unambiguous, and Rashi need not comment. In the next verse (verse 40), “he is bald; he is clean,” one may misunderstand the meaning, and Rashi therefore must explain what it means. In the last verse (verse 41), “he has a receding hairline; he is clean,” one of two things are possible: Either the meaning is perfectly clear; or, since this verse follows the previous one where Rashi explains the meaning, there is now no need to repeat the proper interpretation.

There are several perplexing points in Rashi’s comment on verse 40, on the word “he is bald; he is clean.” He writes: “He is clean from the uncleanliness of bald patches (nesokin). That is, he is not judged by the signs [for leprosy on the] head and beard, which are places of hair, but by the signs for a plague on the skin of the flesh, i.e., by white hair, healthy flesh, and spreading.”

The difficulties are:

    1) Why does Rashi quote also the words “he is bald” on which to make his comment. He interprets the words “he is clean” only, so why quote the words “he is bald” as well?

    2) Without Rashi’s comment, we would interpret the verse “If a man loses the hair on his head, he is bald: he is clean,” to mean simply that loss of hair on the head is not a sign of uncleanliness since it does not come from plague or sickness, but is a natural phenomenon (“he is bald”) — and therefore “he is clean.” It would be similar to the previous verse, which states: “The priest shall examine it: if the skin has dull white spots, it is a rash that has broken out on the skin; he is clean.” That is, that white spots are not plague but simply a “rash,” and therefore a person with such symptoms is “clean.” Rashi, however, interprets the verse concerning baldness differently, writing that “He is clean from the uncleanliness of bald patches (nesokin).” In other words, Rashi interprets the words “he is clean” to refer not to the actual baldness (which is certainly not unclean), but to the plague (which is potentially leprous) that is in the bald spot that this plague does not render one unclean. From where does Rashi derive such an interpretation?

    3) If Rashi does deem it necessary to interpret the words “he is clean” as referring to a plague in the bald spot, why does Rashi continue to say that such a person is made unclean “by the signs for [plagues on the] head and beard”? Surely “he is clean” means he is totally clean!

    Some commentators (Gur Aryeh, Mizrachi) explain that Rashi says such a person is clean only “from the uncleanliness of bald patches” but is rendered unclean by “the signs for a plague on the skin of the flesh,” for in the next verses (42-44) Scripture explicitly says that “If he has a pink blotch on his bald head or on his hairless forehead, it is leprosy breaking out ... If it is ... as the appearance of leprosy on the skin of the flesh, he is leprous ... the priest shall declare him unclean.” However, we cannot say this is Rashi’s intention, for since these laws are explicitly recorded in the next verses, Rashi need not explain them on this verse. Also, if Rashi’s comment is based on these verses, he should have quoted the signs for leprosy on baldness given in these verses — “a pink blotch,” and not given different signs — “white hair. healthy flesh. and spreading.

    4) Rashi writes that the words “he is clean” means clean only “from the uncleanliness of bald patches,” and a person in such a situation (baldness) can be rendered unclean by “the signs for [plagues on the] head and beard.” Rashi then details what these signs are: “white hair, healthy flesh, and spreading.” Now, Rashi’s commentary is not a halachic compendium; why then does he detail what the “signs for head and beard” are? — especially since these signs have been explicitly recorded earlier. in the beginning of the parshah?

    5) Another problem in Rashi’s comment is noted by the Torah Temimah. Rashi writes that people with baldness or a hairless forehead are rendered unclean “by the signs for [plagues on the] head and beard, i.e., by white hair, healthy flesh, and spreading.” The Torah Temimah writes that “this is very puzzling, for it is explicitly stated in Mishnah 10 of chapter 10 of Negaim, that such people are not rendered unclean by white hair.” Similarly, he notes that the Rambam rules (Hilchos Tumas Tzora’as 5:9) that “a person with baldness or a hairless forehead is rendered unclean by two signs: by healthy flesh and by spreading; ... and since they have no hair, they are not rendered unclean by white hair.” Since Rashi says that white hair does render a bald person unclean, we must conclude that Rashi finds an indication for this in the plain meaning of the verse.

The Explanation
There is a simple question on the verse “If a man loses the hair on his head, he is bald; he is clean.” If the verse wishes to tell us only that simple baldness is not leprosy that makes a person unclean, it should have said only “If a man loses the hair on his head, he is clean.” Why add the words, “he is bald”? Surely “loses the hair on his head” and “he is bald” mean the same thing!

Rashi in his comment therefore quotes also the words, “he is bald,” and explains that these extra words teach us that the next words, “he is clean,” mean that he is clean “from the uncleanliness of nesokin (bald patches).” That is, baldness not only does not render one unclean, but it classifies one as being clean (not just not clean) meaning, that even if such a person has bald patches (nesokin) which usually render a person unclean, in this case “he is not judged by the signs for [plagues on the] head and beard.”

Rashi learns this from the extra words “he is bald; he is clean.” Nesokin is classified as a “plague which is in a place of hair (Rashi verse 30); and since in this case “he is bald” — meaning that by nature he has no hair — he is therefore clean from the uncleanliness of nesokin.

Since he is clean because “he is bald,” it follows that he is clean only in regard to “nesokin,” plagues where hair grows. Plagues “on the skin of the flesh” however, do render him unclean, as all people.

Thus, Rashi deduces that a bald person is judged “by the signs for a plague on the skin of the flesh” not from the following verses, but from this verse itself. Since the Torah says explicitly that the reason such a person is clean is because “he is bald.” it follows that this cleanliness applies only to plagues associated with places where hair grows, not to plagues on the skin of the flesh.

Rashi details the signs of a “plague on the skin of the flesh” — “white hair, healthy flesh, and spreading” — to emphasize that although “he is bald,” he is still judged by the sign of “white hair.” For since the plague is not in a place of hair, but “on the skin of the flesh,” he is judged by “white hair” as all people.

Once Rashi has given this explanation on the verse “he is bald; he is clean,” it follows that the same holds true of the following verse, “he has a hairless forehead; he is clean.” Not only does a hairless forehead not render one unclean, but such a person is also clean from the uncleanliness of nesokin — but not from plagues on the skin of the flesh.

The only question left unresolved is why Rashi says that one of the signs of plague on the skin is “white hair,” which contradicts the Mishnah’s assertion that one is not rendered unclean by white hairs.

We will answer this by first understanding another aspect of this. The Torah Temimah asks the following question: “Why is it necessary to say that white hair does not render a bald person unclean, if in any case the sign of white hair is irrelevant to a bald person or a person with a hairless forehead, since in the place of baldness or hairless forehead no hair grows at all? The Rambam writes that a bald person and a person with a hairless forehead are not rendered unclean by white hair, for they have no white hair. With these words he means to say that they are unable to grow hair. The Kesef Mishnah [a commentary on the Rambam] writes that the Rambam is of the opinion that Torah excludes white hair [as a sign of uncleanliness] in a bald person or a person with a hairless forehead, for the reason that they have no hair.” But, continues the Torah Temimah, it is not usual [for Torah] to exclude something which is not relevant in nature. Why then does Torah need to exclude white hair on a bald person?

The explanation is as follows: If it would be absolutely impossible for [white] hair to grow on a bald head or on a hairless forehead, then Torah would not need to tell us that a white hair in a suspected spot of leprosy (plague) in such a place is clean — since it just could not happen. Instead, although as a rule a person’s bald head of hairless forehead cannot grow hair, it is possible to find a [white] hair there. And since white hair in a suspected spot of leprosy is usually a sign of uncleanliness, Torah tells us that since this white hair is in a place where hair does not normally grow, the white hair in this case is not a sign of uncleanliness.

Why? Since hair does not naturally grow in such a place (in the bald area), a white hair found there must result from a another cause — and therefore it does not carry the status of a white hair as a sign of uncleanliness. White hair grown on a bald person by artificial means, such as a salve, for example, is not a sign of uncleanliness

This is what the Rambam means by saying, “A bald person and a person with a hairless forehead ... because they do not have hair, white hair is not a sign of uncleanliness in them.” Note that the Rambam does not say “They have no white hair,” but rather, “white hair is not a sign of uncleanliness in them.” In other words. even when white hair does grow, it does not have the status of white hair as a sign of uncleanliness. And the reason is “because they do not have hair”: Since they do not have hair normally, any white hair present must come from another cause, unrelated to leprosy.

The foregoing is the way this verse is learned according to halachah — that the words “he is bald” exclude all leprosies associated with hair, including when the hair is in the suspected spot of leprosy itself. In the plain interpretation of the verse, however, the words “he is bald” exclude only “places of hair” (since in a bald person, the idea of “places of hair” does not exist). But as regard to a suspected spot of leprosy in a person’s bald area, it is irrelevant that “he is bald” and that therefore this white hair is not natural — for the whole idea of white hair as a sign of uncleanliness is precisely because it is unnatural!

In greater clarification: Rashi learns that the words “he is bald” teaches that the signs for plague on the head or beard (i.e. bald patches with other symptoms) — which in the case of people with hair render them unclean — do not apply in the case of a bald person, for these signs apply only in “places of hair.” But if a bald person has on his head an affliction of the skin of the flesh, i.e., a suspected spot of leprosy, then a white hair in that spot — which is normally a sign of uncleanliness in an affliction of the skin acts in this case also as a sign of uncleanliness. That “he is bald” — i.e., that hair is unnatural for him — does not help to exclude white hair in an affliction of the skin of his head, for white hair is a sign of uncleanliness precisely because it is unnatural. Rashi therefore details the signs of a plague on the skin of the flesh, and says that they are “white hair, healthy flesh, and spreading.

It is for this reason that the Rambam finds it necessary to write the reason for his ruling that white hair does not render a bald person unclean (“because they do not have hair, while hair is not a sign of uncleanliness in them”), although he usually does not write reasons for rulings. Since in this case the plain interpretation of the verse is not as the halachic ruling, but as Rashi interprets it, the Rambam must emphasize that “because they do not have hair, white hair is not a sign of uncleanliness in them” — in all cases, even when the white hair is in an affliction of the skin of the person’s bald head.

* * *
5. At the last occasion (in the Yechidus on the 17th of Adar Sheni), we asked the following question: The Alter Rebbe writes (Hilchos Pesach, Orach Chayim 429:1) that “the early sages enacted ... that the preachers should begin to expound the laws of the festival thirty days before the festival; that is, from Purim and onwards they should expound the Pesach laws.” We asked that just as we start to expound the laws of Shavuos on the fifth of Iyar, and the laws of Sukkos on the 14th of Elul — thirty days before the offerings were sacrificed on the 6th of Sivan and the 15th of Tishrei respectively — so we should start expounding the laws of Pesach on the 13th of Adar, which is thirty days before the 14th of Nissan when the Pesach offering was sacrificed.

Further, we noted that besides the laws of the Pesach offering, one also needs to learn the many laws of searching for and removing chametz, which apply on the evening of the fourteenth of Nissan. Thus thirty days beforehand would certainly be before Purim.

Some people have noted that this question has been asked by the Tosafos in the tractate Bechoros (57b), and the Tosafos answers that “the day on which the deed is performed (i.e., the day on which the Pesach sacrifice is offered) is never counted; and the sages did not differentiate between Pesach and Sukkos, and they followed Yom Tov itself ... for on Yom Tov, there are many sacrifices: the riyah, chagigah and simchah offerings.”

Tosafos is saying that the sages did not wish to differentiate between Sukkos and Pesach, that the thirty days before Sukkos should be reckoned to the first day of Sukkos, while the thirty days before Pesach should be reckoned to erev Pesach (when the Pesach sacrifice is offered). Instead, they reckoned the thirty days as being the time necessary to learn the laws for (the first day of) Yom Tov itself, for on Yom-Tov, many sacrifices are offered (as opposed to erev Pesach, when only the Pesach offering is sacrificed). Thus, counting from Purim, although there are indeed less than thirty days before the 14th of Nissan (when the Pesach offering is sacrificed), there are thirty days before the 15th of Nissan (the first day of Pesach, when the riyah, chagigah and simchah offerings are sacrificed).

However, this Tosafos does not answer the question originally asked. The question was based on the Alter Rebbe’s ruling in Shulchan Aruch, which states: “This enactment was not abolished from Israel even after the Bais HaMikdash was destroyed, for each sage was accustomed to teach his disciples the laws of the festivals thirty days beforehand so that they should be well versed in its laws and know what to do.” This ruling does not talk of the laws of the festival sacrifices, which do not apply after the destruction of the Bais HaMikdash, but of the laws of the festival which apply to actual deed today: searching for chametz and removing it. It therefore has no relevance to the above Tosafos, which says that the sages “followed Yom-Tov itself ... for on Yom-Tov, there are many sacrifices.”

Further, the Alter Rebbe does make a difference in the latter generations between festivals between Shavuos and the other festivals. On Pesach and Sukkos, the sage expounds the laws of the festival on the Shabbos preceding the festival, whereas on Shavuos, “there are no special laws, for everything that is forbidden or permitted on it, applies also on Pesach and Sukkos.” Thus Tosafos answer that “the sages did not differentiate between Pesach and Sukkos” does not apply.

In any case, the citation of Tosafos in answer to the question asked is no real answer, for now the question has merely been transferred to the sages: Why indeed didn’t they differentiate between Pesach and Sukkos? Just as one needs to learn the laws of the sacrifices offered on Yom-Tov itself (riyah, chagigah, simchah), so one needs to learn the laws of the Pesach offering, and the laws of searching for and removing chametz which are relevant to the evening of the fourteenth of Nissan. They therefore should have differentiated between Pesach and Sukkos, and fixed the start of the study of Pesach’s laws on the 13th of Adar.

We can go further: The festival laws are learned thirty days before the festival to know what to do. The majority of the laws that are relevant for a Jew to know are not about sacrifices (even in the times of the Bais HaMikdash), but in other festival matters — chametz on Pesach, sukkah and lulav on Sukkos. The only thing each Jew needed to know about sacrifices was that the animal had to be clean of any blemish or anything else that could render it invalid as a sacrifice. The laws concerning the slaughter, the sprinkling of the blood, the burning of its parts, etc., were relevant only to the priests who do it.

Even in the laws of blemishes themselves, a Jew did not have to be totally conversant with every particular law. The Talmud (Sanhedrin 5b) relates that Rav learned about blemishes from a shepherd for 18 months — and an ordinary Jew could obviously not possibly learn all these laws in thirty days! We must therefore conclude that they learned about these laws only generally and superficially, especially since the priests also checked the animal for blemishes.

The other festival laws however — concerning chametz on Pesach and sukkah and lulav on Sukkos are a great many in number, and every Jew had to learn them before the festival to know what to do. Thus, if it necessitated thirty days to learn the laws of blemishes in a superficial fashion (and even then, the priests afterwards checked the sacrifice), it should take at least that time to learn the vastly more numerous other laws, which every Jew had to know clearly and in detail.

The original question therefore stands: Why didn’t the sages take into account that thirty days are needed to learn the laws of searching for and removal of chametz, and therefore should have set the start of study for the 13th of Adar thirty days before the “evening of the 14th of Pesach.”?

* * *
6. [The Rebbe Shlita gave mashke for those places in which the Tanya had been printed. In connection to this, he said the following.]

An edition of Tanya should be printed in the near future, and at the back of this edition the front pages of all editions of Tanya that have been printed in the whole world should be included.

The front pages of those editions of Tanya printed until Rosh Chodesh Nissan, or at the most until the first days of Nissan, should be included in this special edition. Those editions which will be printed after this date should also be included.

The front page is the “gate” to the whole Tanya, and encompasses it. Through printing in one edition all Tanyas that have been published throughout the world (through printing all the front-pages at the back of the special edition), all Jews living in those places where these editions were printed are united together; and love and unity of Jews is a lofty thing indeed. The unity effected through Tanya is particularly lofty, for it is associated with the inner aspect of Torah, which, since it has no arguments or dialectics, has the theme of unity.

May it be G-d’s will that we speedily merit the fulfillment of the promise given by Mashiach to the Baal Shem Tov, that Mashiach will come “when your wellsprings will spread forth to the outside.” The principal spreading of the Baal Shem Tov’s teachings was carried out by the Alter Rebbe, author of the Tanya and founder of Chassidus Chabad, through which the inner aspects of Torah are comprehended with the intellect. Chassidus Chabad is the preparation to the study of the Torah of Mashiach in the future, when “a new Torah shall go forth from Me.”


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