Friday, April 27, 2012

Double the Portion, Double the Fun!

6 Iyar 5772 / April 27-28, 2012

In this week’s double portion of Tazria and Metzora, we read about the purification process for those who had skin afflictions (in Hebrew, “tzara’at” -- commonly mistranslated as “leprosy”), which it was believed were caused by spiritual shortcomings. 

The Talmud (in Erchin 15a) lists 7 wrongdoings for which one would deserve to be stricken with tzara’at:

1.     Lashon hara (speaking evil about another)
2.     Murder
3.     Immorality (most often sexual in nature; specifically, adultery)
4.     Making a false oath
5.     Arrogance
6.     Theft
7.     Miserliness

For example, we learn later on in the Torah that Miriam, Moses’s sister, was punished with tzara’at when she spoke poorly of her brother (fitting into the category of lashon hara -- #1 above). 

Those who had skin afflictions were required to present themselves before either Aaron or one of his sons (all of them Priests), and they would determine whether or not the individual was “contaminated” or “pure.”  If contaminated, depending on the affliction, there were a number of steps one needed to take in order to regain status as “pure.”

The idea that internal shortcomings may manifest externally is not a new one.  Also, just because we don’t see an external sign doesn’t mean that we are not guilty of doing some of the things on the above list (and/or other things that challenge our spiritual purity).  As a result, sometimes we’re blind to our own shortcomings.

As a result of this potential blindness, in the process the Torah lays out, it is an outside actor – a Priest – who is telling individual Israelites whether or not they are spiritually contaminated.

Who do we as Jews have that kind of relationship with now? 

Is there someone you check in with to make sure that you are being the best version of yourself? 

A rabbi?  A therapist?  A parent? 

Who do you choose to confide in to grow spiritually and why? 

While there may no longer be active Jewish Priests, and even if you aren’t exhibiting negative external signs such as tzara’at, make a conscious decision to have someone you check in with spiritually on a regular basis.  In doing so, we can avoid our own spiritual blind spots, and continue our commitment as Jews to living lives both meaningful and fulfilled.

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