Carnegie Shul Chatter – April 11, 2013

Candle lighting time is 7:37

This weeek’s parshah is Thazria-Metzora, dealing primarily with the laws of purification after childbirth and the laws of leprosy.  The section on leprosy is a very long section, and is the leprosy that is discussed in the parshah the same as the leprosy that exists in the world today –  a disease that has all but been eliminated in our modern, enlightened world? So why spend any time at all commenting on this parshah which seems to be of little current interest?

The answer to that question may very well be found in one paragraph in the comments at the bottom of page 461 in our chumash.  There it is said, “The rabbis regard leprosy as a Providential affliction in punishment for slander or tale bearing; thus teaching that the slanderer is a moral leper and should find no place in the camp of Israel.”

Likewise, makes the point, “The bulk of this week’s portion, Tazria-Metzora, discusses various forms of tzara’at, skin maladies which are contracted as a result of engaging in forbidden gossip.”

And so this portion does indeed have great significance in our modern world.  We live in a world where bullying has become epidemic, where the old adage, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me,” has proven to be far from accurate.  It is a world in which people who have been bullied seek revenge by carrying weapons into classrooms with horrifying consequences as we have seen in places like Columbine and Newtown.  Yes, leprosy is now a rarity, but mass killings occur far too frequently.

It is easy to advocate for stronger gun control, and I am not opposing that.  I certainly do not think that there is a need for the average Joe to have an assault weapon, but is the weapon the cause of the shootings or just the means at the shooter’s disposal?

Gossip can be so very hurtful, and haven’t you at some time or another been guilty of repeating something that someone has told you without first verifying the accuracy of the tale?  Marriages have been destroyed, careers have been ruined and, yes, lives have been lost as a result of slander, tale bearing, and wanton gossip.

And so the message of the Torah still applies today.  The result may not be leprosy, but words can indeed break bones or worse.

Bar Mitzvah

Yes, next Saturday, April 20, is the big day when we will be having a Bar Mitzvah at The Carnegie Shul.

Justin Dreyer, son of Dr. Evan and Melissa Dreyer, and brother of  Samantha and Rebecca, will be called to the Torah to celebrate his Bar Mitzvah.  Justin is an outstanding young man and those of us who attend Sabbath services regularly have been quite impressed by his davening ability.

We are expecting a very large crowd for the Bar Mitzvah which begins at 9:20, so if you are planning to attend please arrive early.

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