We are all a little broken. Going through health challenges can remind us just how fragile we all are. Recently I had a health challenge of my own, and while I am coming out the other side of it, I am greatly aware of the amount of support it takes from doctors, friends, family, and community to get through. This week’s Torah portion, M’tzora, teaches us that it also takes boosting the strength of our spirit to find healing and wholeness.
M’tzora is a Torah portion about Leprosy, and I know you are all wondering how the doctors of the Torah treated this skin ailment. Well, if you were a patient of the priests, you would have received the following as your treatment: Cedar wood, crimson cloth and a live bird are dipped into an earthen vessel containing a mixture of fresh water and the blood of a second bird. The “leper” is sprinkled with this mixture seven times, after which the live bird is set free. (Lev. 14:2-8).
We never found an exact name for my health condition which included neuropathy, pressure headaches, and extreme exhaustion, and I don’t remember the doctor prescribing me a live bird to set free either. What I do know is that in order to get through a health challenge, it took a lot of “chirping” to doctors, friends, and family to feel like I would find some healing. The more we “chirp” to each other, the more likely it is that we will find someone who knows somebody who can help us. The more we chatter about the help we need, the more likely someone will pray for us, make meals for us, find us a remedy, or just be there for us as a friend. Being a member of our synagogue connects us to a social network of birds willing to help and be there for each other.
Ultimately, my chirping led me to many congregants who helped me through my health challenge- connected me to doctors and to my current Acupuncturist who gave me new hope and healing. While we may experience feelings of hopelessness going through a health challenge, the live bird we hold in this Torah portion reminds us to choose healing, to choose chirping, and to choose community. Letting go of the bird may be recognizing that we cannot hold onto a state of health that we are used to, but we can always access the beauty of connecting, communicating and community.