Drash on Parashat Tazria-M’tzora (Rosh Chodesh) 2023

Drash on Parashat Tazria-M’tzora (Rosh Chodesh)     
Rabbi Benjamin Meijer Verbrugge
United Indonesian Jewish Community

Tzara'at or leprosy endangers oneself and others. The sufferer must be isolated for the sake of the patient himself for the healing process, and for the benefit of others so that the plague does not spread widely

The Torah speaks of the isolation required for 7 days which represents the lifespan, and 70 years which represents the period of life, where several periods of re-incantation are required for isolation for complete healing of the dysfunction to occur. The work of checking the patient's final condition is carried out by the priest, who then performs certain rituals for purification.

The above text cannot be applied in the present context because the Jewish community is currently unable to perform the ritual due to the absence of a Temple as the proper place to perform the purification ritual. However, events have meaning in the context of the modern Jewish community both in Israel and in the diaspora with the following important lessons.

  1. Tzara'at is a Dysfunction of Life

In another context, Kabbalah associates tzara'at/skin disease/leprosy with dysfunction at the psychological level of the sufferer as follows:

Tzara'at in the house is equivalent to a failure at nefesh (soul) level

Tzara'at  on the clothing is equivalent to a failure at the level of ru'ah (spirit)

And skin tzara'at is a failure in neshama—the highest level of soul

  1. Gossip /Lashon HaRa and Ego are lepers

People infected with leprosy had to be ostracized until their disease was cured. Ideally, one who engages in gossip will be ostracised and only then will appreciate how damaging their actions are. Of course the priests or community leaders must strive for them to get healing and cleansing so they can return to the congregation.

In my opinion, another leprosy is ego, which is the conscious and intentional intention to feel superior to oneself over others so that it shifts respect (kavod) to God, rabbis, community leaders and other community members. A person who does not feel it is important to meet, pray and study Torah together, and who does not show respect needs to experience self-isolation outside the community. As a rabbi, I always pray for them to become "Israelis", that is, to struggle directly with God in their solitude so that they get real answers.

  1. Community Functions and Community Priests/Leaders

The leper was brought in to perform the purification that the priest performed on behalf of another person (sufferer) (Lev. 13.:46). This shows that each of us is part of the whole community where we are interconnected and need each other (Lev. 14:12)

Sometimes a member of a Jewish family may feel so unclean as a result of immorality that he may isolate himself from the group because he feels he is too dirty. People like this should not be left alone and need the hands of other family members and their leaders to carry out the process of  recovery or teshuva without judging their situation. A touch of language, a touch of love and strength will make him realise that he is not alone and still has a family and a good future together with strong people in the community to make redemption (Lev. 13:26-34)

Enjoy the day of liberation from the bonds of life. Keep believing that each of us was born to perform a special great mitzvah!

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