Tazria is this week’s parsha and it comes from Leviticus 12:1-13:59 and 2 Kings 4:42-5:19. This week’s parsha must be on the list of least popular bar mitzvah dates. Both the Torah and the Haftarah portions deal with skin diseases. Awesome, because blemishes are every pre-teen’s favorite topic of conversation!
Without going into too much detail for the more squeamish among us, the Leviticus portion is really amazing because the purity laws differentiate between the types of skin marks that are merely superficial imperfections and those that signal deeper contagion. God gives instructions for the priests to set up tests to distinguish between marks that were disease and marks that are disease. Moreover, it gives instructions for the people and for the priests to be able to regain ritual purity after a bout with one of these ailments. Exterior hygiene is important, but it is the inner condition of a person’s heart that will render them permanently clean or unclean.
This week’s Haftarah is from the prophetic career of Elisha in 2 Kings. Naaman is a military commander who becomes afflicted with leprosy. No one he knows can give him a cure or a referral for someone who might know more. At the suggestion of his wife’s unnamed Israelite servant girl, he travels to inquire after the prophet Elisha. Elisha doesn’t give this very important man very much attention, he just sends him to bathe in the Jordan River. The Jordan wasn’t a very dignified river and was sort of muddy and small. Naaman, even in his humiliated, leprous state, thought he was too good for Elisha’s cure. Naaman’s pride in the face of Elisha’s prescription almost gets in the way of him being healed. Thankfully, he is confronted by some of by his servants and companions who challenge him to follow Elisha’s instructions. They know that if Elisha had asked Naaman to do something complicated he would do it, but that because it is simple Naaman immediately has dismissed it.
How often are we guilty of the same thing? We are confronted with a problem and instead of turning to God and trusting him to meet our needs or provide for us we fret and worry. How often do we know that Yeshua has paid the penalty for our sins with his death on the cross, but still we act like we have the power or ability to win God’s favor for ourselves. This week, let us seek God’s help not just to be people who act right and look right, but to be people who pursue God and who ask him to lead us in his ways.
Shabbat Shalom Camp Gilgal,