Among other subjects Parashat Tazria teaches on leprosy. Because it is Shabbat Hachodesh we do not read from Melachim Bet (II Kings), but from Ezechiel 45:16-46:18 and I Samuel 20:18-42. Leprosy in the Bible is a term for a spiritual condition. Not a physician but a priest is the one who does the checking and who renders the remedy. The condition can be described as a state of spiritual laziness and stagnancy in the soul. It expresses itself through discoloration of the skin and hairs, garments and even of the walls of the home. Tsara’at (leprosy) is a soul disease.

The disease infects other people, reason why the patient will have to isolate him self or herself from the people. When someone meets a patient who suffers from leprosy – better called tsara’at – the one who suffers must warn the healthy people: Tame, tame (contaminated, contaminated). The Talmud teaches that this has a good purpose for the patient: the ones who are healthy will then pray for him.

One can ask the question why we do not see this disease nowadays. We must keep in mind that tsara’at is a warning sign. Warning signs can only be produced in a body or in an organ with enough vital signs. A tooth with a cavity will produce a warning sign of pain. A tooth which has been rotting so much that it died cannot produce a warning sign any longer. It is possible that our souls have hardened so much that they are not able to produce warning signs anymore.

Torah warns all of us to stay away from this state of spiritual laziness and stagnancy in our souls. We should even less contaminate others with our lifelessness and become alive (again). We should get saved from our spiritual Egypt, from the demons and idols of self-righteousness and elevating our observations and judgments as absolute standard. We should stop building our own kingdoms and start contributing to G-d’s Kingdom.

Shabbat shalom,
Lion S. Erwteman, Rosh Kehillah of Beth Yeshua
Amsterdam, Holland