This week’s reading continues the instructions concerning tzara’at. Once the priest declares a metzora healed, the purification begins so that the outcast can be readmitted into the society. The priest takes 2 birds, cedar wood, crimson thread, and hyssop; slaughters one bird over a container of water; dips the live bird and the other stuff into the water/blood mixture; sprinkles the metzora 7 times; and sets the live bird free. The person then immerses his (or her) clothing, shaves off all his hair, and immerses himself in water. He can now go into the camp, but not his tent yet. After another week, he finishes purification by another round of shaving and immersing his clothing and body in water. Then there are sacrifices to be offered (just what depends on ability to pay). Now we get to tzara’at in houses. More birds, blood, cedar, hyssop, and crimson thread. Luckily, you could usually avoid having the purification do too much damage to your house.
The rest of the portion concerns genital discharges, male and female, normal and abnormal. Recall that the main public effect of tumah (ritual impurity) is that the person can’t take part in the sacrificial rites of the tabernacle (later, temple). Once the second temple was destroyed, that was moot. The ongoing effect, then, concerned sexual relations. While some men do immerse in a mikvah today (e.g., before Shabbat, Yom Kippur, and/or marriage), the focus is on women, who are supposed to immerse before marriage, a prescribed number of “clean” days after her menstrual period, and after childbirth. The mikvah is also part of the process of converting to Judaism. Today, some women may “immerse in the mikvah to mark the death of a loved one, divorce, after a miscarriage, while seeking cancer treatment, following rape or sexual abuse, and other both positive and negative life experiences.”
This Shabbat is Shabbat HaGadol, which is the final Sabbath before Passover. [Yup, gotta finish (or start) getting rid of the chametz, cleaning the house, and pesachdich food shopping.] I’ve been told that this was one of the rare times the rabbi gave a sermon in olden times, which included information on the laws of Passover and was traditionally very long. There’s no extra Torah reading, but there is a special haftarah Malachi 3:4-24, which ends with the need to reconcile parents and children (with help from Elijah) “before the coming of the awesome, fearful day of the Lord.”
There’s a Shark in the Mikvah!: A light-heart…(Kindle Edition)
There are three ways a man wears his hair – parted, – unparted, or departed.
I want a hair cut please.
Certainly, which one?
Karen: Have you noticed that Daddy is getting taller?
Sharon: No, why?
Karen: His head is sticking through his hair.
Customer: How much for a haircut?
Barber: Fifteen dollars.
Customer: How much for a shave?
Barber: Ten dollars.
Customer: Right – shave my head.
Quotes about Outcasts
“A young outcast will often feel that there is something wrong with himself, but as he gets older, grows more confident in who he is, he will adapt, he will begin to feel that there is something wrong with everyone else.”
― Criss Jami, Killosophy
“God dances with the outcast.”
― Steven James, How to Smell Like God: True Stories Burning with the Scent of Heaven
Pastor’s Wife Joke
Gladys was a pastor’s wife and went with him to church every Sunday. One Sunday the sermon was particularly long; some people were getting sleepy. When the pastor finally ended the service, his wife went over to one of the gentlemen who had fallen asleep, and in an effort to help him wake up, she extended her hand and said: “Hello, I’m Gladys Dunn.” The man replied: “Lady, you’re not the only one.”