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Tazria-Metzora Yehuda-Tehuda: The Essence of Being Jewish

This week we have a double-portion to provide double-power to the understanding of how important energies are in our lives in general and to us as Jews in particular.

The double-portion of Tazria-Metzora goes into deep detail regarding punishment conditions that people may have on their skin, clothes, or house. Our rabbis define clearly that this punishment is the result of lashon hara speaking badly, and that the levels of the punishment are related to the levels of lashon hara that occurred.

Speaking badly? Speaking badly isn't like theft or murder which involve a direct action and a direct effect - in the words of the children's song sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me. Clearly this children's song does not express the Torah perspective on words, which this double-portion gives us a very valuable opportunity to examine.

Lashon hara, speaking badly, is energies, the energies that a person emits from their mouth and another person receives in their ears. We generally don't see or feel energies or think of them in particular, but rather are "distracted" by the physical forms and impacts that energies have. Tazria-Metzora is telling us: energies have a big impact, for better or for worse, and a Torah-way of seeing the world is to see it as the energies it is. It all started that way, "Let there be light", and energies are what the world is and how the world works.

Our energies-mission is embedded in our definition of ourselves as "Jews", in Hebrew Yehudim or Yehuda. The root of the word Yehuda is about energies such as hed "echo", and the same root forms the word for energy resonance Tehuda. Jews who identify themselves as more deeply religious add another energies-based word to their self-description, and as Haredim they "shake/vibrate" in their relationship to the world around them.

Energies are the essence of Yehuda of being Jews, of being aware of the energies we want to bring into the world and actually generating those energies. Our key phrase, Shma Yisrael, is for us to be aware of and sense energies that we might otherwise ignore, and the phrase's continuation Ve'ahavta tells us clearly what energies it is our mission as Jews to put out into the world. A Jew continually asks, what energies have I brought into the world today, are they energies of Metzora or energies of Ve'ahavta?


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