This week we're reading Parashat Tazria-Metzorah, which focuses on the states of taharah and tumah (usually rendered "purity" and "impurity" in English, though longtime readers of this blog know I prefer using the Hebrew terms, in part because the English words offer connotations I don't think are necessarily correct.)
The portion speaks of how being in a state of tumah, specifically due to childbirth or illness, prevents one from approaching the presence of God. In my d'var at Radical Torah, I explore a way of reading this idea descriptively rather than prescriptively. I muse about my own experiences. And -- with last weekend's social justice-themed retreat still reverberating in my consciousness -- I explore this portion's teachings about those in need:
On a broader level, looking beyond the confines of my own skin, this portion drives me to consider an interpersonal question: how do we treat those in our community who are ill? Especially those with conditions which distress us, which remind us visibly and viscerally of our own fragility? I know from my own experience that being ill can distance me from others and from my sense of connection with God. Do I create that feeling of helpless distance for others, by turning away from those who are sick and in need?
Read the whole thing here: Health -- and connection with God. (By the way, a note to those who asked last week: I'm told the new site design is temporary, and that some of the old site's features -- yes, including bylines again! -- will be returning soon.)