- Weekly D'var Torah
In this week's parashah, Tazria, the Torah discusses what is clean and unclean, and what is healthy and unhealthy skin, and explains the many forms of the skin disease, tzara'at. The list goes on and on of what is a clean skin, and what is not. In every way that the Jewish people could have formed tzara'at, they would discuss it with a Kohen, and the Kohen would say of it was clean or unclean. The Jewish people would rely on the input of the Kohen to determine if the had to undergo a purification process, and live in isolation, or if they were free to live there normal lives among everyone else.
In verse 25, the Torah states, “The Kohen shall look at it. And, behold! the hair has turned white in the bahereth, and its appearance is deeper than the skin, it is tzara'at which has spread in the burn . So, the Kohen shall pronounce him unclean. It is a lesion of tzara'at.” That is an example of an unclean tzara'at. What I just read seams like a form of rare skin cancer in today’s modern society, but I bet you would have never thought this would end up in the category of the skin cancers of tzara'at, “If a man loses the hair on [the back of] his head, he is bald. He is clean.” The Torah discusses men going bald! Today going bald is just a sign of aging, and is normal. This teaches us that the times of the torah and modern times aren’t same. We will never be able to completely understand the times of the torah because simply we never lived in those times.
Now, the Kohanim are who the Jewish people relied on for basic advise, like how to put their clothes on the holiest ways, or something difficult like determining if their skin cancer is contagious and could affect all the Jewish people. The Kohanim are the people who the Jewish people trust their lives with. One of the most important parts of being a Kohen is making sure that every person is the happiest, healthiest, and holiest they can be. Their job is to help you be the best person you can be. By being at the holiest place you can be, you make everyone around you more holy.
Modern day scientists say that the ten closest people in your life are the people who affect your every move, and can either make you closer to G-d, or farther away. For me the closest people in my life are probably my parents, my sister Hannah, my best friends Alyssa and Ella, my grandparents, and my friends Sara, Natalie, and Hannah from my summer camp, Camp Sabra. Every move I that I make is affected by those people. What the Kohanim are doing is making you the holiest people you can be. Everyone of these forms of skin cancer that you can form, and if it is clean or unclean, Hashem wants you to be the best person you can be so that all of those ten closest people in your life can also be the best people they can be. I really think what this week’s parashah is trying to teach us is that to help others be the best people they can be, first you need to be the best you you can be.
In order to make others happy, you have to make yourself happy. Rashi and other commentators, however, says that tzara’at is a spiritual disease you gain from speaking lashon hara, or gossip. What the Torah is trying to teach us here is that gossip is like a disease. It spreads quickly without one even realizing, but once you realize it is being spread, it can affect your life in horrible ways. As kids, adults always tell you to think before you speak, but it actually is really important and something we should keep in our mind. A couple weeks ago I participated in my school’s color war. Color war is an intense week of academic, athletic, and creative challenges. Many people will stay up till 3:00 a.m. making sure their plays or dances or d'var torahs are complete to their best abilities. If a couple of people are super grumpy throughout color war, then they can make their whole team grumpy. The key to making sure everyone is happy during color war is first making sure you’re happy. Your emotions spread like tzara’at or lashon hara. Shabbat Shalom.
This week's student d'var torah was written by Heather Kletzky, a sixth grader at Denver JDS.