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Weekly D'rash and Parsha Tazria Metzora

This week's Torah portion is one that seems far removed from our world today. In fact, most of this portion troubles our sensibilities. It has to do with purity rules in relationship to childbirth, skin disease, sickness and moldy houses. The word for skin disease in Hebrew is ‘tzaraat’. The ancient rabbis concluded that this was a manifestation of the sin of speaking badly about another, such as gossip and spreading lies about another person. However, overall, the whole portion has to do with physical situations which in the ancient world represented abnormal situations. It seems that one would be deemed ‘unclean’ if they were ill or they secreted bodily fluids. In this context, ‘uncleanness’ did not require repentance, but rather becoming healthy. A woman was unclean after childbirth. A person with a skin disease was considered unclean until it healed. While these categories are foreign to our thinking, the passage does remind us that Israel was called to be a people who were given a vision of a way of life that looked forward to the ‘World to Come’ which is a world of perfection. We know that the Messiah came to heal us of our sinful condition. Therefore, when we embrace Yeshua we begin the process of transformation. It begins with the forgiveness of our sins. When Yeshua came, he healed some people thereby demonstrating the promise of the future complete healing not only of our sins but of our entire being. It is not a coincidence that Yeshua healed some people who were ‘lepers’. He did so to show that he is the one who brings cleansing. At that very time, He cured many people of diseases, afflictions, and evil spirits; and He gave sight to many who were blind. “And He answered and said to them, ‘Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: the BLIND RECEIVE SIGHT, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the POOR HAVE THE GOOD NEWS PREACHED TO THEM’”. (Lk 7:21–22) When we embrace Yeshua, we are cleansed—even though our bodies continue to deteriorate and we still get diseases. Paul wrote, “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer person is decaying, yet our inner person is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal”. (2 Cor 4:16–18). As Messiah followers, we are called to live today with the hope that whatever difficulties we face are temporal. Moreover, whatever difficulties we face today do not hinder us from our service toward God (2 Cor 4:8–10). Whether it be disease or trials of various kinds (James 1:2), we are not disqualified. We are not unclean. As we read the Torah portion for this week, may we rejoice in the fact that in Messiah we enter the holy place through a new and living way. It is through the blood of Messiah Yeshua (Hebrews 10:19–22). Regardless of your physical condition, in Messiah Yeshua you are accepted by God (Rom 15:7). May our Torah portion cause us to rejoice in the coming of Messiah Yeshua! Shabbat Shalom Rabbi Howard

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