Parshat Tazria-Metzorah

By Rabbi/Cantor Marcelo Gindlin, ’22

The Healing of the Spirit

If you heard that someone had gossiped about you, hurting your feelings, would you no longer consider that person your friend?  If they apologized saying it would not happen again, would you consider giving them another chance?

This double Parsha is about the laws of Tumah and Taharah…impurity and purity.

In our previous Torah portion, we learned of the laws of impurity regarding animals. We read about which ones were considered pure and were allowed to be eaten, and which ones were not pure.

In Tazria we learn about Tumah concerning humans. Beginning with the laws of a woman who has given birth and the rituals of purification after childbirth.

Parshat Metzorah¬†details the symptoms of a malady called¬†Tzara‚Äôat¬†as well as how the Israelites¬†are¬†cured, how the Priests¬†working¬†as physicians were able to cure various skin diseases. In the laws of¬†Tzara‚Äôat, we read about¬†spiritual healing, about God desiring to make us holy, healing the sick –¬†the purification process.

Gossip, the sins of an evil tongue are words that hurt and destroy others. Our sages explain that Tzara’at is often the product of Gossip and malignant words. The Torah instructs that one who had spoken evil was only able to come back after they had emptied their hearts and thoughts of hateful words.

The two Torah portions combined of Tazria and Metzorah are about following rules and forming a lifelong bond of sincere intentions with respect to God.

The Israelites were lucky to have the priests attending to their medical issues. There were no lab tests or antibiotics at that time. The Kohanim diagnosed and nurtured the people back to wholeness. They did not just treat the outward signs of their sickness, rather they tended to their souls. This is because Tzara’at was primarily a disease of the SOUL.

The Holy One wanted to give people the opportunity to know that they needed healing and they needed to better their ways. Tzara’at functioned as a reminder to re-sensitize individuals to the people around them and to their own obligation to see the good in others rather than just the flaws.

Today, my understanding of those times is that Ona’at Devarim, hurting another person through words, (as written in the Talmud) can wound the heart for a lifetime for both children and adults. Sometimes it is intentional and sometimes it is unintentional. But it always hurts and does damage.

How can we do Teshuvah today for that kind of wounding? We must be present and mindful, shining and listening with open hearts to a melody that dances around us, igniting sparks within our souls. Today, we make every effort to live a sincere and compassionate life. We may fail at times, but the soul is pure and everlasting and gives us hope and strength to do better every day.

V’taher libeinu v’nafshenu…Purify our hearts and souls. In an effort to get our process starting ourselves, we can surround ourselves with the pure light of love. Through positive words and the intention to heal, we meet life’s challenges and try to bring out the best in others and in ourselves. We are all healers.

Please, God, give us strength to carry on.

When we light the candles this Shabbat, let’s give thanks to the Priests- the Kohanim from long ago. They were the physicians who helped heal our ancestors treating them in the best way they knew how. Today we have access to technical help and physicians to assist us, living in a modern world, a time of hope and promise. But let us not forget:

With Shechinah all around us, it will always be: