April 5, 2019

This weeks Torah portion is called 'Tazria'. It's often combined with the next portion, M'tzora. At the beginning of Tazria, in chapter 12, we read that if a woman gives birth to a boy, she will be impure for 1 week. If she gives birth to a girl, she will be impure for 2 weeks. I'm certainly not going to try to deal with the possible inequality here. Instead, I'm going examine what comes next, beginning with chapter 13, where we see a very puzzling section of Torah that deals exclusively with one thing...a strange skin condition called tzaraht, usually described as leprosy, though it is believed that it was more akin to something like a curable fungus that afflicted not just skin, but fabrics, as well as plastered buildings and stone structures. How strange is that!?

Now, why would the Torah devote so much time to this strange condition? When we think of the Torah, we think of a book of laws, of morality, and of spirituality...not a medical manual, so why is so much time spent on this?...

When did stop signs become suggestions? I learned from my father that it meant a full stop, although that was probably because he was a judge. I recall when he would give me driving lessons that I must come to a full stop, look left, look right, look left once again and then proceed if safe to do so. I still drive that way, not in homage to my father but because it is a habit, and frankly, the way some people drive, it is probably a good habit, much to the chagrin of the impatient driver behind me.

Have the Ten Commandments become the Ten Suggestions? We can agree that a society must have unifying laws that all will follow, as that would be part of the definition of a society. I would think that a high value on human life would demand “Thou Shalt not Murder”, but does everyone place the same high value that Judaism does on human life? What would drive a young man to bring weapons to a public school that he discards this commandment? Or a suicide murderer who believes that eternal reward...

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