Friday, April 24, 2020 /30 Nisan, 5780
Parashat Tazria M’tzora Leviticus 12:1-15:33
When Rabbi Kail asked me to send out the introduction for this week’s Shabbat email, I should have checked the Torah portion before agreeing. Tazria-M’tzora, this week’s portion is every B’nai Mitzvah family’s nightmare. So often we hear, “I’d like to have my child become b’nai mitzvah on this date, but it’s not the Torah portion about Leprosy, is it?” Well, yes, this week is the portion about Tzoraat, the scaly, gross affliction, so often defined as leprosy, but this time, it seems almost an appropriate lesson for us to study.
While we could get bogged down in the details of being unclean and having this horrible affliction, I think it’s most appropriate to focus on the aspect of purification and being readmitted to the community. When Tzoraat is found in your home, you need to be removed from the community, or quarantined. Sound familiar? But what comes next are the rituals and guideline for reintegrating into the community. What a timely discussion.
As our local, state, and federal governments begin to consider what reintegration into society might look like for communities all over the world, we are studying in the Torah about just that. Coincidence? Maybe it’s just God’s way of staying anonymous. While we still don’t quite know what this will look like for us, during this pandemic, our focus is truly beginning to shift, from how do I clean and disinfect, to remain safe, to how do I consider a safe return to some normalcy. While I’m sure that our return won’t include sacrificing a lamb or a bird, I’m sure it will include some sacrifice, or at least some change in the way we do things, but just like those who had Tzoraat, we too will welcome everybody back to the community in due time.
As our attentions begin to change, so may we begin to turn from fear and isolation to reintegration and return to community. Just as the Levitical Priests found a way to accept people back into their tribes, so may we find ways to celebrate our return, as soon as it is safe to do so.
Cantor Ilan Davidson