Thursday, April 14, 2016

Parshat Metzora, 4th Portion, Leviticus 14:33-53, April 13, 2016

“And the Lord spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, When you come to the land of Canaan, which I am giving you as a possession, and I place a lesion of tzara'ath upon a house in the land of your possession, and the one to whom the house belongs comes and tells the kohen, saying, "Something like a lesion has appeared to me in the house," the kohen shall order that they clear out the house, before the kohen comes to look at the lesion, so that everything in the house should not become unclean. After this, the kohen shall come to look at the house.” (Leviticus 33-36)
We read here that the Lord has placed the tzara’ath in the house. Did he do this because he's mean, or for some other reason? I'm assuming that God is not mean, though if you talk to people, you'd hear about all the unfortunate things that happen in their lives. Perhaps the mold is a mirror to let us see that something is awry.

My son called with some unfortunate news. I apologized to him for not telling him earlier in his life that good and bad things happen to us. They alternate, like a pendulum. And when we get upset, then we have two problems to deal with... the original problem, and our being upset because we have a challenge. One problem is easier to solve than two. (See the Sallatha (Dart) Sutra.)

Leprosy in the Torah is associated with evil speech, gossip and murmuring. The home is an important institution in Judaism, second only to the temple. Torah should be discussed at every meal. Having a family is one of the greatest acts that a Jew can do. The menorah sits in the window to light the world.

When something is wrong in the house, it demands attention. Typically there is an issue with speech. Someone either said something that they shouldn't, or didn't say something they should have said.

Unlike mold remediation companies, the kohen just inspects the mold. If there is mold, he quarantines the house. If that doesn't cure the problem, he has the people plaster the house, and take the stones near the mold away from the house.

Finally, when the mold is cleared, the kohen performs an offering. I love this two step process. Solve the problem, and then offer gratitude that the problem is solved.

We often don't do step #2. We are fixing things all the time, but not looking enough at why things broke. Your family is dysfunctional. You go on a family vacation, or to a family therapist, and learn to talk together. Problem solved. But not really any closure. You don't assess what really caused the problem and you have just eradicated the symptom rather than the problem. It is time for an offering. We often miss that final step, and the mold quickly reappears.

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