27 Adar II 5774 / March 28-29, 2014
In this week’s portion, Tazria, we learn that in some ways, the ancient Israelite priests doubled as doctors. If you were suffering from some sort of skin affliction (the Torah goes into depth about some of the different kinds you might be experiencing – weak stomached folks beware!), your first trip was to go see a priest. The priest would then determine, depending on the appearance of the affliction, whether or not you needed to be isolated, and for how long.
Why the priests?
Because our ancestors viewed these kinds of skin issues as physical manifestations of (and/or as punishment for) spiritual shortcomings.
While today we often don’t actively associate physical illness with our spiritual lives, perhaps with a bit more attention to our inner selves, we would find that our spiritual existences and experiences often do set the table for external bodily expressions.
For example: Loneliness or feeling unloved often leads to excessive eating or drinking, which have negative physical health implications (e.g. obesity).
This Shabbat, reflect on the following:
What are my own perceived spiritual shortcomings?
When do my own spiritual struggles manifest into physical ailments, if at all?
How can I develop spiritual practices that have me in tune with my body and the world around me?
May we all be blessed with health of mind, body and spirit, and may we be strong enough to make the active choices necessary to help foster such health.