I do not follow celebrities. Just ask Rabbi Max, other than Denzel Washington and Meryl Streep (whose name I had to Google because I forgot it for a second)…I’m not really attuned to these things.
That said, earlier this week I couldn’t walk anywhere without overhearing someone talk about “the slap heard around the world.” Immediately my thoughts turned to The Slap’s connection to our Torah portion this week.
Our Torah portion this week is Tazria. Though the rabbinic commentary on the portion provides nice material for sermons, few rabbis get particularly excited when they draw the Tazria card for their Shabbat service, and many a bar or bat mitzvah student come into our office like: WHAT did I just read?! That’s because the main themes of the Torah portion are: purification rituals after childbirth; and, the ways to diagnose and treat various skin diseases, like tzaraat.
Tzaraat is an important disease in Jewish literature. The rabbinic interpretation of why someone may be afflicted with tzaraat happens to be: when they speak lashon hara, negative speech about another person. Clearly lashon hara happened on the stage at the Oscars this past Sunday when Chris Rock made a “joke,” punching down at Jada Smith, resulting in what we might call in Hebrew, “a ballagan,” a chaotic and messy situation.
The 24-to-48-hour news cycle on the subject may be fading, but the Jewish teachings last a lifetime.
Join me for Shabbat services to find out more.
*Lashon hara is speech that speaks negatively about another person