This week’s Torah reading includes two portions, Tazria and Metzora. In the first one, Tazria, there are detailed instructions on something which the English translations usually describe as “leprosy”.
That’s not exactly accurate but as close as we can come to the idea of the text.
The Torah describes a three stage “affliction” which is the result of unrepentant sin, primarily in seven specific areas: slander & gossip, murder, theft, immorality, jealousy, arrogance or pride, and perjury. The point is that the outward “affliction” is meant to mirror the damage to the soul of the person because of sin for which there has been no repentance. It is a vivid symbol.
The Torah describes an affliction that comes to one home (‘leprosy’ appearing on the walls – something like mold) which the Sages explain as untoward happenings to one’s home or possessions; such as being robbed of one’s possessions or having damage inflicted on one’s home through unusual means, etc.
Secondly, there is an affliction that affects the garments one wears; perhaps accidental tears of a new garment, or moth eaten sections, etc.
Thirdly, there is the affliction that affects the human body in the form of some illness or injury.
In each case, the point is that any of these ‘afflictions’ are a call to us to inquire of Hashem what it is that He is trying to say to us. Where have we fallen short? For what have we not repented? What is it that He has been trying to teach us, but we’ve ignored His promptings and therefore, stronger measures were needed to get our attention???
Let me be quick to say that not EVERY thing that happens falls into this category. There are in this fallen word events that are truly accidental, but even then, we can ask for wisdom for we believe that nothing – absolutely nothing – happens except for our ultimate good and growth.
But if we are aware that we have been resisting Hashem’s nudgings in our soul, ignoring areas in our life that we KNOW need to change and we’re just procrastinating, then it behooves us to take stock of our spiritual state when any of the above described “afflictions” visit our home, possessions or ourselves.
In keeping with this theme, the matter of our thought life takes center stage. King Solomon wrote so many centuries ago, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Our thoughts are far more powerful than we realize and the way we think has a great deal to do with how our life unfolds. In fact, just this week, I read an article in which a medical doctor stated unequivocally that in light of all the attention being given nowadays to Alzheimers and Dementia, many people have begun to more seriously take care of their brain with vitamins and the like. While that is good and has its place, this doctor remarked, it’s not the whole story. He declared that just physical nourishment for the brain will not save it; that we need to feed our brain positive, uplifting and joyful thoughts along with the vitamins and exercise “in order to achieve spiritual health” (his words).
When our thinking is dominated by negativism, it is very difficult to perceive when Hashem is reaching out to us with instruction, correction or inspiration. If it goes on too long, we position ourselves to be recipients of the “afflictions” described in Tazria.
In Tune with Torah this week = beginning with an examination of our typical way of thinking. Are my thoughts generally positive or negative? Am I enthusiastic about life or am I bored? Am I a giver or a taker? Starting with these questions, we can move on to other areas and after a ‘thought inventory’, take whatever steps we need to take to improve our way of thinking in order to improve our lives.