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Tazria, Thazria, Thazri’a, Sazria, or Ki Tazria’ (תזריע — Hebrew for "she conceives,” the 13th word, and the first distinctive word, in the parshah) is the 27th weekly Torah portion (parshah) in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading and the fourth in the book of Leviticus. It constitutes Leviticus 12:1–13:59. Jews in the Diaspora read it the 27th or 28th Sabbath after Simchat Torah, generally in April.

The lunisolar Hebrew calendar contains up to 55 weeks, the exact number varying between leap years and regular years. In leap years (which have 54 or 55 weeks—for example, 2011, 2014, and 2016), parshah Tazria is read separately. In non-leap years (for example, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015, and 2017) there are fewer than 54 weeks, and parshah Tazria is combined with the next parshah, Metzora, to help achieve the needed number of weekly readings. (Kitsur Shulchan Arukh. Edited by Dovid Feldman, Table 6, pp. 218-19.)

Goodall The Poor Widow's Offering

The Poor Widow's Offering (illustration by Frederick Goodall)



God told Moses to tell the Israelites that when a woman at childbirth bore a boy, she was to be unclean 7 days and then remain in a state of blood purification for 33 days, while if she bore a girl, she was to be unclean 14 days and then remain in a state of blood purification for 66 days. (Lev. 12:1–5.) Upon completing her period of purification, she was to bring a lamb for a burnt offering and a pigeon or a turtle dove for a sin offering, and the priest was to offer them as sacrifices to make expiation on her behalf. (Lev. 12:6–7.) If she could not afford a sheep , she was to take two turtle doves or two pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering. (Lev. 12:8.)

Skin Conditions

God told Moses (also Moshe) and Aaron that when a person had a swelling, rash, discoloration, scaly affection, inflammation, or burn, it was to be reported to the priest, who was to examine it to determine whether the person was clean or unclean. (Lev. 13:1–44.) Unclean persons were to rend their clothes, leave their head bare, cover over their upper lips, call out, "Unclean! Unclean!" and dwell outside the camp. (Lev. 13:45–46.)


Similarly, when a streaky green or red eruptive affection occurred in wool, linen, or animal skin, it was to be shown to the priest, who was to examine to determine whether it was clean or unclean. (Lev. 13:47–51.) If unclean, it was to be burned, but if the affection disappeared from the article upon washing, it was to be washed again and be clean. (Lev. 13:52–59.)

In classical rabbinic interpretation

Leviticus chapter 12

Rabbi Simlai noted that just as God created humans after creating cattle, beasts, and birds, the law concerning human impurity in Leviticus 12 follows that concerning cattle, beasts, and birds in Leviticus 11. (Leviticus Rabbah 14:1.)

Rabbi Johanan interpreted the words “in the [eighth] day” in Leviticus 12:3 to teach that one must perform circumcision even on the Sabbath. (Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 132a.)

The Gemara read the command of Genesis 17:14 to require an uncircumcised adult man to become circumcised, and the Gemara read the command of Leviticus 12:3 to require the father to circumcise his infant child. (Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 132b.)

The Mishnah taught that circumcision should not be performed until the sun has risen, but counts it as done if done after dawn has appeared. (Mishnah Megillah 2:4; Babylonian Talmud Megillah 20a.) The Gemara explained that the reason for the rule could be found in the words of Leviticus 12:3, “And in the eighth "day" the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.” (Babylonian Talmud Megillah 20a.) A Baraita interpreted Leviticus 12:3 to teach that the whole eighth day is valid for circumcision, but deduced from Abraham’s rising “early in the morning” to perform his obligations in Genesis 22:3 that the zealous perform circumcisions early in the morning. (Babylonian Talmud Pesachim 4a, Yoma 28b.)

The disciples of Rabbi Simeon ben Yohai asked him why Leviticus 12:6–8 ordained that after childbirth a woman had to bring a sacrifice. He replied that when she bore her child, she swore impetuously in the pain of childbirth that she would never again have intercourse with her husband. The Torah, therefore, ordained that she had to bring a sacrifice, as she would probably violate that oath. (Babylonian Talmud Niddah 31b.) Rabbi Berekiah and Rabbi Simon said in the name of Rabbi Simeon ben Yohai that because she fluttered in her heart, she had to bring a fluttering sacrifice, two turtle-doves or two young pigeons. (Genesis Rabbah 20:7.) The disciples asked Rabbi Simeon ben Yohai why Leviticus 12:2 permitted contact between the father and mother after 7 days when the mother bore a boy, but Leviticus 12:5 permitted contact after 14 days when she bore a girl. He replied that since everyone around the mother would rejoice upon the birth of a boy, she would regret her oath to shun her husband after just 7 days, but since people around her would not rejoice on the birth of a girl, she would take twice as long. And Rabbi Simeon ben Yohai taught that Leviticus 12:3 ordained circumcision on the eighth day so that the parents could join their guests in a celebratory mood on that day. (Babylonian Talmud Niddah 31b.)

Rabbi Simeon noted that Scripture always lists turtledoves before pigeons, and imagined that one might thus think that Scripture prefers turtledoves over pigeons. But Rabbi Simeon quoted the instructions of Leviticus 12:8, “a young pigeon or a turtledove for a sin-offering,” to teach that Scripture accepted both equally. (Mishnah Keritot 6:9; Babylonian Talmud Keritot 28a.)

Leviticus 12:8 called for “two turtle-doves, or two young pigeons: the one for a burnt-offering, and the other for a sin-offering.” Rav Hisda taught that the designation of one of the birds to become the burnt-offering and the other to become the sin-offering was made either by the owner or by the priest's action. Rabbi Shimi bar Ashi explained that the words of Leviticus 12:8, “she shall take . . . the one for a burnt-offering, and the other for a sin-offering,” indicated that the mother could have made the designation when taking the birds, and the words of Leviticus 15:15, “the priest shall offer them, the one for a sin-offering, and the other for a burnt-offering,” and of Leviticus 15:30, “the priest shall offer the one for a sin-offering, and the other for a burnt-offering,” indicated that (absent such a designation by the mother) the priest could have made the designation when offering them up. (Babylonian Talmud Yoma 41a.)

Leviticus chapter 13

Tractate Negaim in the Mishnah and Tosefta interpreted the laws of skin disease in Leviticus 13. (Mishnah Negaim 1:1–14:13; Tosefta Negaim 1:1–9:9.)

A midrash compared the discussion of skin diseases beginning at Leviticus 13:2 to the case of a noble lady who, upon entering the king's palace, was terrified by the whips that she saw hanging about. But the king told her: “Do not fear; these are meant for the slaves, but you are here to eat, drink, and make merry.” So, too, when the Israelites heard the section of Scripture dealing with leprous affections, they became afraid. But Moses told them: “These are meant for the wicked nations, but you are intended to eat, drink, and be joyful, as it is written in Psalm 32:10: “Many are the sufferings of the wicked; but he that trusts in the Lord, mercy surrounds him.” (Leviticus Rabbah 15:4.)

Rabbi Johanan said in the name of Rabbi Joseph ben Zimra that anyone who bears evil tales (lashon hara) will be visited by the plague of skin disease (tzaraat), as it is said in Psalm 101:5: “Whoever slanders his neighbor in secret, him will I destroy (azmit).” The Gemara read azmit to allude to tzaraat, and cited how Leviticus 25:23 says “in perpetuity” (la-zemitut). And Resh Lakish interpreted the words of Leviticus 14:2, “This shall be the law of the person with skin disease (metzora),” to mean, “This shall be the law for him who brings up an evil name (motzi shem ra).” (Babylonian Talmud Arakhin 15b.)

Rabbi Samuel bar Nahmani said in the name of Rabbi Johanan that skin disease results from seven things: slander, the shedding of blood, vain oath, incest, arrogance, robbery, and envy. The Gemara cited scriptural bases for each of the associations: For slander, Psalm 101:5; for bloodshed, 2Samuel 3:29; for a vain oath, 2Kings 5:23–27; for incest, Genesis 12:17; for arrogance, 2Chronicles 26:16–19; for robbery, Leviticus 14:36 (as a Tanna taught that those who collect money that does not belong to them will see a priest come and scatter their money around the street); and for envy, Leviticus 14:35. (Babylonian Talmud Arakhin 16a.)

In the priest’s examination of skin disease mandated by Leviticus 13:2, 9, and 14:2, the Mishnah taught that a priest could examine anyone else’s symptoms, but not his own. And Rabbi Meir taught that the priest could not examine his relatives. (Mishnah Negaim 2:5; Deuteronomy Rabbah 6:8.) The Mishnah taught that the priests delayed examining a bridegroom until after his seven days of rejoicing, and delayed examining anyone until after a holy day. (Mishnah Negaim 3:2.)

Rabbi Abbahu, as well as Rabbi Uzziel the grandson of Rabbi Uzziel the Great, taught that Leviticus 13:46 requires that the person afflicted with skin disease “cry, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’” to warn passers-by to keep away. But the Gemara cited a Baraita that taught that Leviticus 13:46 requires that the person “cry, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’” so that the person’s distress would become known to many people, so that many could pray for mercy on the afflicted person’s behalf. And the Gemara concluded that Leviticus 13:46 reads “Unclean” twice to teach that Leviticus 13:46 is intended to further both purposes, to keep passers-by away and to invite their prayers for mercy. (Babylonian Talmud Moed Katan 5a.)

A midrash taught that Divine Justice first attacks a person’s substance and then the person’s body. So when leprous plagues come upon a person, first they come upon the fabric of the person’s house. If the person repents, then Leviticus 14:40 requires that only the affected stones need to be pulled out; if the person does not repent, then Leviticus 14:45 requires pulling down the house. Then the plagues come upon the person’s clothes. If the person repents, then the clothes require washing; if not, they require burning. Then the plagues come upon the person’s body. If the person repents, Leviticus 14:1–32 provides for purification; if not, then Leviticus 13:46 ordains that the person “shall dwell alone.” (Leviticus Rabbah 17:4; Ruth Rabbah 2:10.)

Rabbi Samuel bar Elnadab asked Rabbi Haninah (or others say Rabbi Samuel bar Nadab the son-in-law of Rabbi Haninah asked Rabbi Haninah, or still others say, asked Rabbi Joshua ben Levi) what distinguished the person afflicted with skin disease that Leviticus 13:46 ordains that the person “shall dwell alone.” The answer was that through gossip, the person afflicted with skin disease separated husband from wife, one neighbor from another, and therefore the Torah punished the person afflicted with skin disease measure for measure, ordaining that the person “shall dwell alone.” (Babylonian Talmud Arakhin 16b.)



According to Maimonides

Maimonides cited verses in this parshah for 3 positive and 1 negative commandments:

  • To circumcise the son, as it is written "and on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised" (Lev. 12:3.).
  • For a woman after childbirth to bring a sacrifice after she becomes clean, as it is written "and when the days of her purification are fulfilled" (Lev. 12:6.).
  • Not to shave off the hair of the scall, as it is written "but the scall shall he not shave" (Lev. 13:33.).
  • For the person with skin disease to be known to all by the things written about the person, "his clothes shall be rent, and the hair of his head shall go loose, and he shall cover his upper lip, and shall cry: 'unclean, unclean'" (Lev. 13:45.). So too, all other unclean persons must declare themselves.

(Maimonides. Mishneh Torah, Positive Commandments 76, 112, 215; Negative Commandment 307. Cairo, Egypt, 1170–1180. Reprinted in Maimonides. The Commandments: Sefer Ha-Mitzvoth of Maimonides. Translated by Charles B. Chavel, 1:88, 123–24, 230–31; 2:283–84. London: Soncino Press, 1967. ISBN 0-900689-71-4.)

According to Sefer ha-Chinuch

According to Sefer ha-Chinuch, there are 5 positive and 2 negative commandments in the parshah:

  • The precept about the ritual uncleanness of a woman after childbirth (Lev. 12:2.)
  • A ritually unclean person is not to eat meat of holy sacrifices. (Lev. 12:4.)
  • The precept of a woman’s offering after giving birth (Lev. 12:6.)
  • The precept regarding the ritual uncleanness of a m’tzora (person with a skin condition) (Lev. 13:12.)
  • The prohibition against shaving the area of a nethek (an impurity in hair) (Lev. 13:33.)
  • That one with a tzara'ath condition (skin condition), among others, should rend clothes. (Lev. 13:45.)
  • The precept of tzara'ath in cloth (Lev. 13:47.)

(Sefer HaHinnuch: The Book of [Mitzvah] Education. Translated by Charles Wengrov, 2:201–33. Jerusalem: Feldheim Pub., 1984. ISBN 0-87306-296-5.)

Pieter Fransz. de Grebber 001

Elisha refusing the gifts of Naaman (painting by Pieter de Grebber)


The haftarah for the parshah is 2 Kings 4:42–5:19 Both the parshah and the haftarah report the treatment of skin disease, the parshah by the priests (in Lev. 13), and the haftarah by the prophet Elisha (in 2Kings 5). Both the parshah and the haftarah frequently employ the term “skin disease” (tzara’ath). (Lev. 13:3, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 15, 20, 25, 27, 30, 42, 43, 49, 51, 52, 59; 2Kings 5:3, 6, 7.)


Ezekiel (painting by Michelangelo)

On Shabbat HaChodesh

When the parshah coincides with Shabbat HaChodesh ("Sabbath [of] the month," the special Sabbath preceding the Hebrew month of Nissan — as it does in 2011 and 2014), the haftarah is:

On Shabbat HaChodesh, Jews read Exodus 12:1–20, in which God commands that “This month [Nissan] shall be the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year” (Exodus 12:2), and in which God issued the commandments of Passover. (Exodus 12:3–20.) Similarly, the haftarah in Ezekiel 45:21–25 discusses Passover. In both the special reading and the haftarah, God instructs the Israelites to apply blood to doorposts. (Exodus 12:7; Ezekiel 45:19.)


Isaiah (painting by Michelangelo)

Parshah Tazria-Metzora

When parshah Tazria is combined with parshah Metzora (as it is in 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, and 2015) and the parshah does not coincide with a special parshah (as it does in 2009), the haftarah is the haftarah for parshah Metzora, 2Kings 7:3–20. Both the parshah and the haftarah deal with people stricken with skin disease.

On Shabbat Rosh Chodesh

When the parshah or combined parshah coincides with Shabbat Rosh Chodesh (as it does in 2009 and 2016), the haftarah is Isaiah 66:1–24.

The Weekly Maqam

In the Weekly Maqam, Sephardi Jews each week base the songs of the services on the content of that week's parshah. For parshah Tazria, Sephardi Jews apply Maqam Saba, the maqam that symbolizes a covenant (brit). This is appropriate, because this parshah commences with the discussion of what to do when a baby boy is born. It also mentions the brit milah, a ritual that shows a covenant between man and God.

Further reading

The parshah has parallels or is discussed in these sources:




  • Psalms 72:12 (God’s help for the needy who cry out); 147:3 (God’s healing).

Early nonrabbinic



Classical rabbinic

  • Mishnah: Nazir 7:3; Sotah 3:8; Keritot 6:9; Negaim 1:1–14:13. Land of Israel, circa 200 C.E. Reprinted in, e.g., The Mishnah: A New Translation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, 444, 453, 851, 981–1012. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988. ISBN 0-300-05022-4.
  • Tosefta: Bikkurim 2:6; Shabbat 8:27; Megillah 2:4; Sotah 6:7; Eduyot 2:4; Negaim 1:1–9:9. Land of Israel, circa 300 C.E. Reprinted in, e.g., The Tosefta: Translated from the Hebrew, with a New Introduction. Translated by Jacob Neusner, 1:350, 385, 857; 2:1253, 1709–44. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Pub., 2002. ISBN 1-56563-642-2.
  • Sifra 121:1–147:16. Land of Israel, 4th Century C.E. Reprinted in, e.g., Sifra: An Analytical Translation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, 2:231–323. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1988. ISBN 1-55540-206-2.
  • Jerusalem Talmud Maaser Sheni 46b. Land of Israel, circa 400 C.E. Reprinted in, e.g., Talmud Yerushalmi. Edited by Chaim Malinowitz, Yisroel Simcha Schorr, and Mordechai Marcus, vol. 10. Brooklyn: Mesorah Pubs., 2008.
  • Mekhilta of Rabbi Simeon 10:2. Land of Israel, 5th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., Mekhilta de-Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai. Translated by W. David Nelson, 31. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 2006. ISBN 0-8276-0799-7.
  • Leviticus Rabbah 2:6; 5:5; 14:1–16:1; 16:3–4, 6; 17:3–4; 18:2, 4–5; 21:2; 27:1, 10; 36:1. Land of Israel, 5th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Leviticus. Translated by H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, 4:24, 70, 177–98, 202, 205–07, 216–17, 219, 229, 232–33, 266, 344, 354, 456. London: Soncino Press, 1939. ISBN 0-900689-38-2.
First page of the first tractate of the Talmud (Daf Beis of Maseches Brachos)


  • Babylonian Talmud: Berakhot 4a, 5b, 25a; Shabbat 2b, 24b, 26b, 28a, 54a, 55b, 67a, 94b, 132a–b, 134b–35a; Eruvin 24a, 32a, 37a; Pesachim 3a, 4a, 9b, 67a–b, 75a, 84a, 90b, 92a, 113b; Yoma 6a, 9b, 28b, 34b, 41a, 42a, 81a; Sukkah 28b; Megillah 8b, 20a, 24b; Moed Katan 5a, 7a–8a, 14b–15a; Chagigah 11a, 18b; Yevamot 4b, 47b, 72b, 74b–75a, 83a, 103b–04a; Ketubot 61b, 75b; Nedarim 4b; Nazir 17b, 26b–27a, 29a, 43a, 54b, 56b, 59b, 64b, 65b; Sotah 5a, 23a, 32b; Kiddushin 13b, 25a, 30a, 35b; Bava Kamma 11a, 80a, 92b; Bava Metzia 86a; Bava Batra 84a, 127a; Sanhedrin 4a, 11a, 26a, 34b, 54b, 59b, 68a, 83b, 87b–88a, 97a, 101a; Makkot 8b, 14b, 20b, 22a; Shevuot 2a, 6a–7a, 8a, 11a, 16a, 17b; Avodah Zarah 23b, 42a; Horayot 10a; Zevachim 19b, 32b, 33b, 38a, 49b, 67b, 76b, 90a, 94a, 102a, 105b, 112b, 117a; Menachot 4b, 6b, 37b, 39b, 91b; Chullin 8a, 24a, 31b, 41b, 51b, 63a, 71a, 77b–78a, 84b–85a, 109b, 134a; Bekhorot 17a, 27b, 34b, 41a, 47b; Arakhin 3a, 8b, 15b–16b, 18b, 21a; Temurah 26b; Keritot 7b–8b, 9b–10b, 22b, 28a; Meilah 19a; Niddah 11a–b, 15b, 19a, 20b–21a, 24b, 27b, 30b–31a, 34a–b, 35b, 36b, 37b, 38b, 40a, 44a, 47b, 50a, 66a, 71b. Babylonia, 6th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., Talmud Bavli. Edited by Yisroel Simcha Schorr, Chaim Malinowitz, and Mordechai Marcus, 72 vols. Brooklyn: Mesorah Pubs., 2006.


Rashi woodcut





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