Much of the content of this week’s two Torah portions, Tazria’ and Metzora’, address how the priesthood was to deal with people afflicted with skin ailments. But it’s not just a training manual for kohanim. It also includes guidance for the one who is afflicted and affected. See, for example, this verse:
“As for the person with a leprous affection: the clothes shall be rent, the head shall be left bare, and the upper lip shall be covered over; and that person shall call out, ‘Impure! Impure!” (Leviticus 13:45).
Do these behaviors remind you of another phase in life? If you said they look like mourning practices, you’re not alone. The tearing of a garment and the disheveled public appearance are hallmarks of being in a state of avelut, mourning for a close relative. We saw this as Aharon, Elazar and Itamar were instructed not to mourn visibly after the deaths of Nadav and Avihu in last week’s Torah portion. This begs the question: what is the relationship between mourning and ritual unfitness?
Think about my question, and on Shabbat morning, I’ll share some brief thoughts that relate to the observances of the upcoming week on the Jewish calendar.
Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom veHodesh Tov,
Rabbi David Wise
Candle lighting: 7:22 PM
Torah Reading: Leviticus 12:1-15:33
Maftir: Numbers 28:9-15
Haftarah: Isaiah 66:1-24