Parashat Tazria 5784

April 8, 2024

Cantor Robin Anne Joseph (’96)

One of my rabbis used to tell a story about a time when his father was on death’s doorstep. He had been 30 days in a coma suffering from a rare blood infection. The doctor comes into the room and says, “I don’t think he’s going to make it. There is one more drug we can try, but it’s so strong— if it doesn’t help him, it could kill him.” He told my rabbi the name of the drug. “Oh!,” said my rabbi, “that is the same drug that I was given 40 years ago when I was sick with Typhoid fever. It saved my life.”

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Parshiyot Tazria-Metzorah 5783

April 17, 2023

Click here for an audio recording of this D’var Torah A D’var Torah for Parshiyot Tazria-Metzorah By Rabbi Matthew Goldstone Reading Parshiyot Tazria-Metzorah this year I can’t help but think about bodily autonomy and the conversations taking place across the United States about the legality of abortion and related procedures. The Torah establishes a system in which those in power, the priests, are tasked with looking at a part of a person’s body to dictate their ritual status. Based upon their determination, the person may be socially isolated and required to shave portions of their body. The voyeurism coupled with a religiously-imposed obligation to do something with, or to, one’s body, grates against modern notions of personal autonomy. And yet, at the same time, I realize that I actually do subscribe to certain bodily limitations and restrictions imposed by governing powers. להבדיל, I endorse vaccination requirements for people to enter certain spaces. Even beyond Covid-19, I expect public schools...

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Parashat Tazria – Shabbat Hahodesh 5782

April 1, 2022

Click HERE for an audio recording of this D’var Torah A D’var Torah for Parashat Tazria – Shabbat Hahodesh By Rabbi Doug Alpert (’12) I watched with great interest the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings this past week regarding Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination to be an Associate Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. This interest is not generated solely by my background and interest in law, nor is my concern limited to the state of our country and the on-going challenges to our democracy. As Jews we (and I) are keenly aware of the importance of Halakhah; how our rule of law and a system of justly administered laws contributes to our sense of community and Jewish unity. As Jews we also know that we have thrived when governed by democratically principled governments and we have painful memories of being targets of persecution under authoritarian regimes. My interest in the hearings for Judge Brown Jackson...

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Parashiot Tazria-Metzorah 5781

April 16, 2021

Click HERE for an audio recording of this D’var Torah A D’var Torah for Tazria-Metzorah By Rabbi Marc Rudolph (’04)Not all Parshiyot are equally welcomed by rabbis – or by congregants! One could say these are the Parshiyot that we love to hate. Bar mitzvah boys and bat mitzvah girls cringe when they find out they need to write a D’var Torah on this week’s Torah portion, whose subject matter is skin diseases and emissions of fluids, both natural and pathological, from various orifices of the body. I suspect that their parents wish they had been savvy enough to check ahead of time to find out the subject matter of this week’s Torah reading before scheduling their child’s big day. For this is the week when this most obtuse of subjects is read from our holy Torah in synagogues across the world. We rabbis struggle to find meaning, to find significance, to come...

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Parashat Tazria Metzora 5780

April 24, 2020

The Torah and Social Distancing A D’var Torah for Parashat Tazria Metzora By Rabbi Irwin Huberman (’10) Perhaps there has never been a better time to embrace — with open arms — a section of the Torah, which most years we tend to turn away from. The double portion of Tazria-Metzora speaks about those bodily conditions that often make us socially and physically uncomfortable: Rashes, skin diseases, bodily purification and leprosy, to name a few. But isn’t it remarkable, how, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, this week’s Parashah comes to life probably in a way it never has in our lifetime? During this unprecedented time, we can’t help but marvel at how our tradition appeared concerned with public health, long before the field of medicine became a sophisticated practice. Indeed, our tradition recognizes the importance of testing, treatment, quarantine, evaluation and re-integration as part of a communal approach to...

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