Heartwarming stories have surfaced during the current pandemic.
Salutes to first responders and volunteers providing medical aid and food to those in need have touched my heart.
There is also a flip side. Price gauging, fights, and racist rants reveal an ugly side of our society.
A valuable lesson in this week’s Torah portion Tazria-Metzora (Leviticus 12:1–15:33), can help us navigate these confusing times.
If an individual is afflicted with white patches on their skin, only a Kohen (priest) can inspect the symptoms and determine if this is the spiritual malady known as Tzaraas.
The individual with Tzarass is then isolated from the community outside the city, away from other inhabitants. After a seven-day quarantine, the individual is inspected by a Kohen who has the sole authority to pronounce the person cured.
My teacher Rabbi Menachem Schneerson, of blessed memory, explained why Tzaraas is determined only by a Kohen and not by a scholar or doctor.
Since the consequences of Tzarass cause a person to be banished from the community, this painful and embarrassing judgment can only be pronounced by someone whose decisions are driven by compassion.
Kohanim are predisposed to love and kindness because they inherited it from Aaron, the first High Priest, whom our sages say exemplified the motto, “loving peace and pursuing peace and loving people” (Ethics of our fathers 1:12).
Today we must redouble our efforts to treat people kindly and make difficult decisions from a place of love and not hate.
May you have a peaceful and healthy Shabbat,
Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz