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Tazria-Metzora – A thought for the week by Mike Lewis

This week the subject is impurity and purity and all the gory details. It is not one of the easiest Parashiot to relate to the modern world. The present conditions of pandemic infection could be a starting point but the notion that illness comes from ritual impurity is an extreme view and does not sit easily with our modern world.

It seems bizarre that what is described as defiling events are all those that are part of our human condition including birth and discharges from both men and women

What we are being told is that our imperfections and the challenges that we face in our day to day lives are part and parcel of being human. The concept of Impurity meaning unclean and purity meaning clean was to define who could or could not enter the Tabernacle. It would be our actions that mattered.

Brit Milah, which is described here, is an action that is not just mandated by God but is a physical sign that we commit.

The detailed descriptions of the disease, Tsaarat, challenged the commentators. The Torah is about Law, Morality and Spirituality, not a medical textbook. The consensus became that Tsaarat indicated "Lashon Ha’ra” evil speech which causes untold misery. It was said that it kills three people: the one who says it, the one he says it about and the one who listens to it. The famous saying:

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me.

is not true, emotional injuries can be worse.

Rather than “Lashon Ha’ra” (a bad tongue) there is always the choice of “Lashon Tov” (a good tongue); encouraging speech that praises and uplifts the one who hears.

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