Braid the Parashah


Can two live birds cure a horrible skin disease? 

Our biblical ancestors thought it would do the trick…  

They explained that when a person contracts tzara’at, a horrible skin disease, a priest should take two live birds, slaughter one, and then dip the one still living in the blood of the dead one and sprinkle it on the person with the disease. 🤔 As crazy as this seems to us, our ancestors’ rationale for creating this ritual was sound in their minds. 

 First, it is important to understand that the rabbis were operating from an assumption that the afflicted individual must have done something wrong to deserve the skin disease.  For them, illness didn’t just happen, it was a result of sin. 

In this case, the sin was  “idle chatter” or “gossip” and so therefore the cure should somehow relate… hence, the birds.  The rabbis explain that gossipers are just like two songbirds, singing and chatting away with no purpose. They create a ton of noise but not much more…

Ugh. Again, this is problematic as today we know that songbirds are not engaging in “idle noise making” but are rather communicating meaningfully through their beautiful singing. 

That said, the point I take away is that when addressing any kind of challenge or struggle, we should always strive to align the cure with the cause. Even if they got everything wrong, to give our ancestors credit, they did align what they thought was the cause, with what they thought was the aligned cure. 

This is so critical today in considering how we can get to the root of whatever issue we may be facing, whether it is personal or societal. So often we look at a behavior, like aggression, or we look at a state of being, like homelessness, and instead of considering WHY a person is aggressive or homeless we punish the behavior in a way that has absolutely nothing to do with the issue and has zero chance of actually addressing the issue at hand. 

Though the bird ritual had flawed rationale, the attempt was there. They tried and the way I see it, our society could benefit from adopting a more thoughtful approach  as opposed to what sometimes feels today like blind and harsh punishment with no rationale at all.

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