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D'var Torah:
Weekly Torah Portion Commentary

Tazria - 4/11/24


When we consider Torah portion Tazria, we often say that it is about various diseases and emissions from the body.  But one can also look at it from the perspective of the role the priest plays in interacting with afflicted persons and seeing to their well-being. 

 

Throughout this entire parasha, priests provide what we would call pastoral care and rituals in moments of isolation, uncertainty, and ill-health.  The priest is there when a woman is ready to join the community again after childbirth. (Lev 12:6) The priest is called upon to evaluate skin diseases and to put a person in isolation when it is the condition called “tzara’at.” (13:4) The priest is the only one who does bikur holim, visiting the sick, to those isolated and is also the one charged with determining their readiness to return to the community. (13:23)

 

We have not had priests to perform these functions in Jewish life for over 2,000 years.  But the need for pastoral and communal care and concern, the personal touch of being there for someone who is isolated or suffering has not abated.  All of us are tasked with the mitzvah of “bikkur holim”, and it is among our highest duties.

-Rabbi Dena A. Feingold 

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