Metzora – Science or curiosity

2 This is the procedure for the leper on the day of purification, who will be brought in front of the priest. [1]See: Leviticus 13, 50-51

Leviticus 14

The science of then is the curiosity of now: Antiquated, out of date medical tomes gather dust in libraries, but this one gets trotted out and read and discussed year after year. This time there seems to be no profound medical insight or lesson to be learned as we look back on these ancient practices.

3 The priest would go out of the camp, and the priest observed that the affliction of leprosy was healed.

Leviticus 14

Fear of the unknown and the inexplicable grasps us as we feel illness descending upon us. It may be an invisible ailment that attacks us unexpectedly or it may be clear that we are suffering, even if we try to hide the disconcerting symptoms. We may try not to show our symptoms as we may try not to dwell on those around us who are afflicted. But it is there and cannot be totally ignored.

When desperate patients grasp at alternative treatments, is it belief in the incomprehensibility of disease that over rides their trust in rational methods? Grasping at straws and hoping for the best may be our only recourse.

What could be a helpful prayer when it is our turn to face illness? Should it be a rousing chorus or a soft murmur of meditation? Should it be recited by someone who knows how to pray?

12 The cloud lifted from above the Tabernacle and Miriam was leprous like snow… 13 Moses cried out to YHWH saying: Please God! Heal her please!

Numbers 12

Or should we attempt to compose it?

 Let us pray,
 Let us change our diet,
 Let us watch sunsets and moon rises,
 Let us meditate and breathe deeply,
 Let us run away on adventures,
 Let us sit by the ones we love and reminisce,
 Let us pray

Are we able to pray together?

A prayer for healing

Or would it be better alone?

We are changed by illness and disease, in ourselves and in other around us. It is like a journey that we have not planned and cannot avoid. Close the ancient tome now, put it back on the shelf in the musty room until the next time. Sometimes the past has a vote but the present may have the final veto.[2]See Mordecai Kaplan on The Past Has a Vote, Not a Veto

Midrash Harabah and English translations by Rabbi Gail Shuster-Bouskila ©2021