By: Michelle Ruby Schwartz
Director of Israel Teen Emissaries and Education
This week we read the double Torah portion Tazria/Metzora. In Metzora, God speaks to Moses and Aaron saying, “When you enter the land of Canaan and I inflict tzraraat (illness often referred to as leprosy) upon a house there, the owner shall come and tell the priest of the affliction. The priest must examine the house and pronounce the home clean or unclean. The unclean parts must be removed and replaced with clean materials. If the whole house is unclean, the house shall be torn down…”
Both of these Torah portions are heavily focused on this affliction of tzaraat and make it very clear how an individual can be plagued with this as consequence for their actions. So, if tzaraat is a result of unacceptable behavior, why is there this brief passage detailing an ailment of the walls in a home?
I have always been struck by these verses as they speak to what happens behind closed doors. As a parent, my husband and I have always tried to remind ourselves that when our girls would come home from school cranky, tired, mouthy and unpleasant to be around, how fortunate we are to have created a space that was safe for them to be authentically themselves for better or for worse. It also serves as a reminder that we have developed close connections with them and helped ensure our home felt like a safe space. I take comfort in this knowledge because family life is messy and we are no exception to that, but at least we have each other.
I know that not all parents and children are afforded a healthy home environment and it makes me wonder, if our homes could show exterior signs of sickness that put on display the problems afflicting the people inside, would we act differently? Treat our families with more compassion? Have the insight to reach out to those that may need help? My hope is that we all work to bring our best and worst selves to the table and create a sacred space in each of our homes that enables the people we live with to grow, be protected, comforted and loved. Shabbat Shalom from our home to yours!
Please email Michelle Ruby Schwartz at MSchwartz@jewishcolorado.org with questions or comments.