"The priest is to examine the sore on the skin, and if the hair in the sore has turned white and the sore appears to be more than skin deep, it is a defiling skin disease. When the priest examines that person, he shall pronounce them ceremonially unclean." - Leviticus 13:3
The Torah portion for this week is a double reading, Tazria-Metzora, from Leviticus 12:1-15:33. Tazria means "conceived" and Metzora means "diseased." The Haftorah is from 2 Kings 7:3-20.
In this week's Torah portion, we are first introduced to the spiritual malady, with physical manifestations, called tzara'at in Hebrew. This skin-defiling disease was something that the priests had to diagnose. In this portion, we learn the laws and regulations regarding the diagnosis of tzara'at. As the root of the malady was a spiritual one, it was the job of the nation's spiritual leaders to declare the condition and prescribe its healing.
A story is told in the Jewish tradition about a Temple priest who was worried about his family's financial situation. He told his wife: "I'm going to leave town and look for a way to make money elsewhere. In the meantime, I will teach you how to declare skin conditions as pure or contaminated. All sorts of people will come to you with skin conditions, and you will have to be able to declare the status of each individual." The man continued with the first lesson. "You know that every hair is nourished from a particular follicle. If an entire hair is white, then it's a sign that the person does indeed have the defiling skin disease."
Right then and there, the priest's wife cut him off. She said: "Have you no shame? God created a follicle to nourish every hair - except for you? If every hair is nourished where it grows, then you are, too." With the lesson from his wife, the priest canceled his plans to travel and continued to serve God as he was meant to and have faith that God would provide.
This wise woman taught her husband a lesson from which we can all benefit. In the Jewish Grace after Meals, we affirm that God "nourishes the entire world in His goodness - with grace, with kindness, and with mercy. He gives nourishment to all flesh, for His kindness is eternal." Yet, no matter how many times we say these words every day, there is a difference between saying them and living the words. We say that God will provide, but we need to live that way as well.
Now, Judaism maintains that we must put in effort to make a living, but after that, we let God handle the rest. We shouldn't worry all the time about how we are going to make ends meet at the end of the month. We shouldn't lose sleep at night over how we will support ourselves when we retire (especially if retirement is still decades away!). God knows what we need and He knows where we live. He can certainly deliver! Work hard, pray harder, and sleep well at night. God has you in the palm of His hand - you shall not want.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President