Judaism: Spirituality in the Parsha: Tazria-Metzora
Rabbi Dr. Yakov NagenThe writer, a musmach of YU and Ph.d. from the Heb. Univ. of Jerusalem, is head of the Otniel hesder yeshiva kollel..His books (Hebrew) include “Nishmat HaMishna”, “Water, Creation and Divinity: Sukkot in the Philosophy of Halacha” and “Awaking to a New Day: Stories and Insights from Life”.
Parshat Metzora: Biography Becomes Biology
Miriam, Moshe’s sister, received leprosy for speaking ill of Moshe. From this the midrash derives that tsoraat, termed leprosy, is a punishment for the sin of lashon hara, speaking ill of others.
The meaning of this punishment is that the evil in one’s soul is physically manifested. This punishment is therapeutic as it forces the sinner to come to grips with his misdeeds and change himself from the inside.
By being made repulsive to others, one feels what his victims have experienced. The obligation that the Metzora, the person with tsoraat, must publicly declare that he is defiled, makes him focus on his own shortcomings instead of those of others.
Being banished from society until healed also leads one to lack and thereby appreciate the company of those that previously one had denigrated.
Oscar Wildes’ novel “The Picture of Dorian Gray” highlights the danger of a gap between body and soul. Dorian Gray has an innocent and handsome demeanor and thus there is no inhibition to the unfolding of his corrupt inner nature.
Caroline Myss’s work “The Anatomy of Spirit” argues that “biography becomes biology”. Who we are, our thoughts, feelings and the way we live our life, impact on our physiology.
We participate in the creation of our diseases; we have the responsibility to take part of the process of healing. This approach gives insight on the Torah’s approach to Metzora, on the interplay between body and soul.
From the spirit the physical problems emerge, from the spirit the physical problem will be overcome.