April 16-17, 2021 Parashat Tazria-Metzora
5 Iyyar 5781
These days, when we want to find an answer to a question, we often turn to the Internet. When I was young, we searched encyclopedias. Or more often, I would consult my parents, the real experts! In biblical times, people with questions turned to their priests. But what if someone had a life or death question, and the priest didn’t have all the answers?
Our Torah portion describes a plague of tzara’at, a skin disease, that could affect a person and could even infect an entire house. In biblical times, the homeowner was required to report the problem to the priest. The priest served as a kind of public health official who would help the homeowner isolate the diseased person and rid the home of tzara’at. The priest was considered the expert. But our tradition teaches that even the priests didn’t always have the answers. Rabbi Eliyahu Mizrahi, a 15th century Turkish sage, wrote: “Even in the event of certainty about an impurity, one should declare it as doubtful. Thus our sages have stated: ‘Teach your tongue to say I don’t know.’”
It can be difficult to admit when we don’t know something, but admitting it is an act of humility and not knowing is an invitation to learn. Rabbi Gil Steinhauf writes: “I love not knowing! When people ask me a question about Judaism, I’m happy to admit when I don’t have the answer. I’m grateful. That person has given me an opportunity to look something up and learn.”
The Internet isn’t always right, the encyclopedias contained inherent bias, and even the priests didn’t have all the answers. How liberating to know that there is always something more to learn!
Torah Talk—Shabbat afternoon at 1:30pm in the Synagogue (limited seating; masks required)
Please join in this week’s Shabbat celebrations on Channel 1960 or in the Synagogue (limited seating; masks required)
Friday at 4:15 PM: Kabbalat Shabbat & Ma’ariv (Evening Service); Blessings at 5:15 in Dining Room
Saturday at 10:00 AM: Shabbat Shacharit (Morning Service); Blessings at 12:15 in Dining Room
Candle lighting time for the city of Mission Viejo: Friday evening at 7:05 PM
Shabbat ends Saturday evening at 8:02 PM
Shabbat Shalom! Rabbi Sherman