This week’s parsha is Parshat Tazria. In short, it’s about natural bodily functions that sometimes occur without our knowledge such as childbirth, menstruation, leprosy, plague, and more…. We know some of these topics are still relevant today, but how do we find the meaningful lesson within this parsha?
Well, let's start with the laws. One of the interesting laws of Tzara’at, biblical leprosy, which we will learn even more about in next week’s Parsha, is the law governing Tzara’at found in one’s home. Regarding this scenario, the Torah mandates that when the priest comes in to examine the home and declare it impure, all the belongings must be removed prior. This is due to if the declarations of the priest were made while the house is still filled with personal belongings, those items would as well be impure.
This text describes how to clean out a house after someone has had a disease like the plague… Maybe we should be taking notes! All jokes aside–why is it commanded that we take such care in clearing out a house after a plague? Why do we care about saving the belongings in the house?
The midrash explains that G-d cares about our material possessions. It is written: “If the Torah takes care to consider our less-valuable possessions, how much more so of someone’s highly-valued possessions? And if G-d cares about our possessions at all, how much more so of the life of human beings?”
So it’s not just about the possessions – it’s about life, and about loving life. This explanation is perhaps best exemplified by a very popular BBYO tradition, BBYO Senior Lives ceremony. If you are not familiar with this ceremony, it is a tradition that occurs at the end of every single high school senior’s BBYO career. All of the items one has accumulated during one’s time in BBYO (pins, red/blue books, regional merch) are then passed down to the next generation of BBYO teens who one is hoping to inspire. These teens will give life when they become seniors, and then the next generation, and so on… The ceremony is about things, but it also celebrates our love for BBYO and for our friends.
Our items are our legacy and that is why removing them is important. They are symbolic of what we can impart and transmit to others. They are signs of our love and concern for others. Giving away possessions at Senior Lives is showing how much you care not only about the possessions, but really more so how much you care about the people and the memories you shared with them. Seniors “clean out the house” because they want the next generation to carry on what they themselves have started and take over the mantle of responsibility. This process has ensured the survival of not just our movement, but the survival of our people.
Nora Feinberg, Shlicha, Mountain Region
Read commentary on this week's Parsha from BBYO teens around the world.
All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.
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