Parashat Tazria

Leprosy and Other Plagues

We can sanctify our houses, clothes, and bodies by creating a more just society.

Print this page Print this page

Salvation is Possible

Tza'ra'at, or forms of this "plague," exist today. In both the developing world and our own communities, people lack the most basic necessities, not as a result of natural forces but as a result of our failure as local and global citizens to create the social conditions necessary for providing these resources.

In our own society, a society of great wealth and abundance, we fail to provide adequate housing and clothing to all, though the resources to do so are plentiful. More strikingly, of course, is that many Americans lack access to adequate healthcare.

In the developing world, the provision of these resources is even more difficult. Yet on a global level, with our help, providing these basic elements of life is not impossible. 

Despite the destruction we see in the world, salvation is possible. The midrash cited above does not end with exile and destruction. Rather, it concludes by interpreting the explanation of the rebuilding of the infected house ("and they shall take other stones, and put them in the place of those stones" in Leviticus 14:42) as referring to the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Temple and the return of the exiles.

So too, the Sefat Emet tells us that the reason tza'ra'at spreads to our houses and clothes is to indicate to us that not only can they be afflicted, but they can also be sanctified.

We can sanctify our houses, clothes, and bodies by making sure that shelter, clothing, and healthcare are available to all. We can help create societies that not only lack the destructive values of selfishness, deceit, discord, and violence, but that also know when and how to speak the words that need to be spoken, to stand up and take action. Together, then, we can help create a global society of compassion, harmony, and truth.

Did you like this article?  MyJewishLearning is a not-for-profit organization.

Please consider making a donation today.

Rabbi James Jacobson-Maisels

Rabbi James Jacobson-Maisels teaches Jewish thought and mysticism at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem.