Thursday, April 7, 2016

Parshat Tazria, 4th Portion, Leviticus 13:24-28, April 6, 2016

“...the kohen shall look at it. And, behold! the hair has turned white in the bahereth, and its appearance is deeper than the skin, it is tzara'ath which has spread in the burn. So, the kohen shall pronounce him unclean. It is a lesion of tzara'ath.   

But, if the kohen looks at it, and, behold! there is no white hair in the bahereth, and it is not lower than the skin and it is dim, the kohen shall quarantine him for seven days.”  (Leviticus 13:30-31)
Today I'm reading that this all about examination. The kohen looks carefully at the subject. There seems to be a difference when the affliction (called by some an affection) is below or above the skin. Sometimes we stray (or, in Buddhism, leak) and it isn't really us. We might “tell someone off” but it isn't something that we ordinarily do. That would be something on the surface. At other times, we have bad habits that repeat themselves day in and day out.

So the kohen looks very carefully at the skin and the hair, and tries to determine how deep the problem is. Is it something that can be dismissed and the person can return to the community, or is it a more serious problem which necessitates a “time out”?

Is the kohen really looking at the skin, or at the entire person? Is the kohen attempting to protect the person or the community? Did God cause the affection?

I write to prisoners to encourage them on their Buddhist path. They have been set outside the community for a specified amount of time. A jury or judge decided the extent of their affliction. One prisoner wants to write a book about restorative justice. He says he just read the Torah.

It appears that time is the main medicine for both the afflicted and the prisoners. Now we give people a pill or a shot when they have a rash. We say that these are good people who either acted poorly, or were the victim of bad luck. In either case, they don't meet the standards for temple practice.

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