The next subject takes up the rest of the entire Parsha, Parshas Tazria, and continues through next week’s Parsha, Parshas Metsora.
HaShem gave Moshe instructions about an unusual disease called Tsara’as. This disease was a skin condition that caused a person to become Tamei – impure.
The word Tsara’as sounds very much like the English word ‘psoriasis,’ (pronounced sa-ra-ya-sis) which is also a skin condition that probably got its name from the Hebrew word. But although people assume that Tsara’as was psoriasis, it was not.
In addition, Tsara’as is often mistranslated as ‘leprosy,’ but it was actually a completely different disease. Psoriasis and leprosy are skin diseases caused by something physical, but Tsara’as is triggered by a spiritual blemish.
What kind of spiritual no-good thing would cause Tsara’as?
Our Rabbis tell us of several causes, among them, idol worship and immorality, but the most common cause was Lashon HaRa, which literally means, “bad tongue.” This refers to speaking badly of others. Even if what they are saying is 100% true, it’s still considered Lashon HaRa!
There are two customs regarding naming babies after living relatives, and it all depends on the places your ancestors came from.
Ashkenazic Jews (whose origins are from northern Europe) would never name their kids after living relatives. However, Sephardic Jews (from southern Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East), consider it a great honor to name after a living relative. So, amongst Sefardim, baby Sarah can have a living grandmother by the same name Sarah!
Whatever Jewish name parents give their children, whether according to the Sefardic custom or the Ashkenaz custom, is exactly the name HaShem wants them to have. In the words of the holy Rabbi, known as the AriZal, “When parents give their children a name, it’s inspired by HaShem – with Ruach HaKodesh (Divine Inspiration)!”
Remember the “Burning Bush?”
That’s when HaShem commanded Moshe Rabbeinu to put his hand to his chest. Moshe did so, and when he withdrew his hand, his hand was stricken with Tsara’as!
That’s because Moshe had said Lashon HaRah when he said to Hashem, “But they (the Bnei Yisrael) will not believe me.”