Torah Double: Tazria (Leviticus 12:1-13:59) – Metzora (Leviticus 14:1-15:33)
Haftarah: Isaiah (66:1-24)
Wednesday was Yom HaShoah The Remembrance of the Holocaust
This Shabbat has two Torah readings. The first is Tazria which contains rituals of purification of a woman after childbirth, and methods for diagnosing and treating a variety of skin diseases. The second Torah reading contains methods of purification for the leper, and appearances and treatment of fungus or mildew in the home, and ritual impurity resulting from contact with discharges from sex organs.
Interesting concepts and values are that the priests of ancient times were the religious leaders and also played the role of a diagnostician. Leprosy was the most dreaded of diseases in ancient times and the laws of caring for a leper were listed. Since no one would want to come into contact with a leper and the leper was not allowed to attend their duties in the sanctuary, the Israelites made sure the leper was fully recovered from the disease. Unlike other cultures that would separate them fully from their community and leave to die.
Metzora (leprosy) was considered an affliction in punishment from G-d. The Israelites metaphorically believed the word metzora as motzi shem ra (bringing a bad name upon another person). The Talmud considers slander as a hideous capital crime. A slander is like a person who denies G-d. G-d says of the slanderer: “He and I cannot live together in the world” (Talmud Arachin 15b).
This Shabbat drash:
This is the Torah of the Leper…(Leviticus 14:2)
The Torah reading looks at how mind and body work so closely together that it did not make sense in the Torah context to specialize in different parts of a whole person. Today, we discover the wisdom of this approach. Doctors that continue their studies in a specific field of medicine.
Several scientific studies have recently shed light on the efficacy of praying before the death of another person, reinforcing the link between the mind, body and spirit. This type of research is now taken seriously. The study from many medical doctors and their patients have shown that patients for whom prayers were offered required fewer antibiotics and suffered less complications from their illness. One researcher concluded: “Based on this study, I believe that prayer is effective and beneficial.” A professor at the Mayo Medical School, reading this study, commented: “I pray for my own patients, and I feel prayers benefit them.” The patients in this study were from all faiths and their communities offered them prayers.
The power of prayer, and the patient knowing that people care for them!
Rabbi Helene Ainbinder