This week, a Torah triple header: 3 readings, 3 books, 3 scrolls. In addition to the regular weekly reading, Tazria (Lev. 12:1-13:59), there’s a special reading about prescribed sacrifices (Num. 28:9-15) because it’s Rosh Chodesh, the first of the month, as well as Shabbat. The third reading (Ex. 12:1 – 20) is for Shabbat HaChodesh, the Sabbath of THE month, i.e., Nisan, which occurs on or right before (this year, on) Rosh Chodesh Nisan. It’s the 4th of the four special Shabbatot with special readings in preparation for Passover. Not surprisingly, this portion contains instructions for the observance of the first and subsequent Passovers. [Yup, it’s two weeks to Passover. I don’t know why I’m not in more of a panic.] In the special haftarah, (Ezekiel 45:16-46:18, 45:18-46:13 for Sephardim), Ezekiel envisions Passover observance in messianic times.
“Eeeewww, gross!” is the usual, visceral reaction to this section of Leviticus. Tazria is usually read with next week’s portion, Metzora, which condenses their yuckiness factor into one reading. On the other hand, maybe it’s less distasteful to read a smaller portion each week.
Tazria first addresses purification after childbirth. Interestingly, though the offerings brought by the woman are the same whether she gave birth to a boy or a girl, the period of impurity is twice as long for a girl as a boy. I’ve written about this section previously (https://igplotzk.wordpress.com/2014/03/27/comments-on-leviticus-12-1997/), specifically, how childbirth brings together considerations of life and death, male and female, purity and impurity, divinity and earthiness.
The rest of Tazria concerns a skin affliction called tzara’at, which is not leprosy (Hansen’s disease). It is generally considered to be a punishment for slander. Tzara’at must be diagnosed by a priest, and the Torah gives a detailed description of how he is to do this. We also read about tzara’at occurring as red or green streaks on cloth or leather; it’s unclear what these are. The conflation of priestly and medical roles was common in the ancient world. But here the priest does not treat the condition. He examines, diagnoses, and isolates. It’s all very clinical.
In fact, while there is recognition that something bad triggered the affliction, being impure is not a sin in and of itself. Maimonides was of the opinion that the large number of types of ritual impurity served to limit access to the sanctuary (later, Temple) thereby protecting its sanctity. As R. Jack Abramowitz observed in The God Papers. 56. Ritual Purity and Impurity, there were so many ways to contract impurity that at any given moment, there were probably only a small proportion of people who were able to go into the sanctuary. So the idea that the sanctuary was something holy, i.e., set apart as special, was reinforced.
Funniest things ever said by women giving birth (selected)
PUBLISHED: 06:12 EST, 31 August 2014 | UPDATED: 09:15 EST, 31 August 2014
It’s not a secret that labour can turn a woman into someone they never even knew existed…
Whether you’re cursing at your husband, your doctors or just to yourself, the experience of giving birth is something every mother can relate to.
Now Reddit has asked doctors and nurses to share their most memorable child birth experiences:
‘When my brother was born, they had to use forceps to get him out. My mom saw them and screamed “THOSE ARE SALAD TONGS! YOU ARE NOT PUTTING ANY GODDAMN KITCHENWARE IN THERE!”‘
‘My mum apparently said, upon viewing my brother whose head and face had become rather misshapen during his protracted journey down the birth canal. “Noooo! Put it back in!”‘
Even one mother in labour tried setting up her baby’s daddy with one of the doctors who assisted in the delivery.
‘So while this woman is pushing out her baby she begins to half tell/half scream that my roommate should date her ex/the baby daddy. The conversation went something like this:
Mom: You should really….(screams in pain)….go out with….(Screams again) him sometime. He’s really fun.
Dad: I wouldn’t mind some drinks sometime, what are you doing this evening?’
‘Patient fully dilated, started pushing, then changed her mind. “I don’t wanna do this, I’m going the f*** home.” And then tried to get off the table.’
But thankfully there are pain killers to help numb the pain for some women.
‘I was high on meds at the time, I was begging for BBQ ribs in between contractions. “C’mon, honey! The nurses will never know!” They were standing right there.’
‘My husband told me when I was breathing the laughing gas I screamed “I’m lady Darth Vader!” as I was pushing. Then I asked the doctor if he felt my tonsils when he has his arm up there.’
‘My mum said, “What did I have?” and the nurse said, “You haven’t had anything yet, dear.” She was high on gas, my mum…’
2012: One of my favorite TV shows is “House, M.D.” despite (or because of?) its
near-total disconnect from reality. House is supposedly a world-class
diagnostician. Of course, the correct diagnosis usually can’t be made
until the last 15 minutes of the show, so there are a lot of false starts.
I have included some “Houseisms” for this portion in the past, and, since
the show’s final episode is in a few weeks, here are some again and some
“Everybody lies.” First said: [#101], later this is referred to in almost
“Humanity is overrated.”
“Tests take time. Treatment’s quicker.”
“That’s a catchy diagnosis, you could dance to that.”
“Idiopathic, from the Latin meaning we’re idiots ‘cause we can’t figure out
what’s causing it.”
“Never met a diagnostic study I couldn’t refute.”
“Saying there appears to be some clotting is like saying there’s a traffic
jam ahead. Is it a ten-car pile up, or just a really slow bus in the center
lane? And if it is a bus, is that bus thrombotic or embolic? I think I
pushed the metaphor too far.”
“I take risks, sometimes patients die. But not taking risks causes more
patients to die, so I guess my biggest problem is I’ve been cursed with the
ability to do the math.” [#111]
“It is in the nature of medicine that you are gonna screw up. You are gonna
kill someone. If you can’t handle that reality, pick another profession. Or
finish medical school and teach.” [#121]
“If it works, we’re right. If he dies, it was something else.” [#122]
“If her DNA was off by one percentage point she’d be a dolphin.” [#202]
“And humility is an important quality. Especially if you’re wrong a lot….
“Of course, when you’re right, self-doubt doesn’t help anybody, does it?” [#109]
“Arrogance has to be earned.” [#323]
(2010. Dead link.)
Man With Blue Skin
Paul Karasson, seen in pictures and video below, had his skin turn blue after using a colloidal silver solution as a treatment for a skin disease which in turn caused neighbors to shun the blue-skinned man. The man with blue skin due to a skin reaction known as argyria recently moved from Oregon to California because of the way people treated him. Paul Karason hasn’t always had blue skin. You can see in the picture below of Paul with his parents that he was fair-skinned and quite pale. The blue skin man stands out in contrast to his girlfriend’s pale skin color and had to endure taunts of “Papa Smurf” and “Blue Man” in his old neighborhood.
Argyria is a rare condition where elemental silver is absorbed by the body and with repeated exposure, turns the skin blue or blue-grey. In localized cases such as handling silver-based creams, the discoloration can be reversed by laser treatment. In Paul Karason’s case, it resulted from 14 years of drinking a colloidal silver solution which was an ancient remedy where silver was used in a way similar to today’s antibiotics to treat different diseases.
And that’s the strange story of Paul Karason, the man with blue skin.