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  • Writer's pictureRabbi Yonah Burr

Tazria: Man is a Microcosm



Says Rabbi Simlai: “just as man was created after all the animals, beasts and birds, so too, the rules of his contamination are taught after the rules of the animals, beasts and birds”.


Rabbi Simlai is pointing out the seeming parallel between the story of creation, where man is created after everything else, and the explanation of the laws of tumah, where the laws of human tumah is explained after the laws of the tumah of the kosher and non kosher animals.


What is the significance of this observation? And if we look deeper, it would seem that the laws of tumah are more severe when it comes to man, than the tumah applying to animals. A human being is subject to the laws of tzoraas, which contaminates everything around him, and he must be banished from the camp, while animals only contaminate upon contact, and don’t require banishment.


The Be’er Yosef explains: the fact that man was created after everything else symbolizes the fact that man is a ‘microcosm’ of the universe; every conceivable force or characteristic of the world is somehow found in man. After the entire world was created, Hashem put a ‘piece’ of everything into man and created him to encompass it all. We are the glue that holds it all together.


With this power, man has the potential to both elevate the world and to bring it to the lowest depths.


That is the parallel; just as man encompasses every force in the world, we therefore are a blend of both the pure and impure. It is our job to elevate and highlight the pure aspects of our being, and subdue the impure aspects of our being; in this way we will elevate the world along with us.  


This is a tremendous responsibility, but we are given the tools to accomplish it!

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