This week we begin the section of the Torah which deals with skin afflictions. It covers a litany of sores with pus, swelling, rashes, discolouration, scaly, itchy, flaking skin and it prescribes the process by which one deals with such illnesses. First you go to the priest for diagnosis and he would either prescribe some time away from the community or declare you clean and not infectious. The ancient commentators, just like us, were perplexed by the fact that for these afflictions a person went to the priest for a cure rather than the more logical place: the doctor. As a result, they determined that something different must be happening with these particular diseases, something beyond the medical which moved it into the spiritual realm and for that reason, the priest was the source of the cure as opposed to the doctor.
Now I do not for one moment believe that people who are suffering from skin diseases have a spiritual issue which is being manifest in their skin but I do believe that the Torah was very wise about suggesting a connection between the physical and the spiritual parts of our being. It may not be exactly in the way it was envisaged by the commentators but more and more we are finding evidence that our physical health is linked with our emotional and spiritual well-being. But so many of us neglect that part of us and focus soley on our physical health.
Much of our time and energy is devoted to our physical well being, eating the right balance of foods, exercising and sleeping. All of that effort could be aided and supplemented by some spiritual exercise. Work on our emotional well-being as well. Take time to feel good about ourselves and our bodies, learn to love who we are inside, struggle against the demons of self deprecation and lack of confidence. We all have our fears, the places where we feel that we are not all that we could be, times when we are not happy, not doing what is best for us. And the sadness, bitterness, anger, troubles in our lives can affect our health and our bodies.
That is what the Torah teaches us this week. We are a part of an intricate system which is in a delicate balance. We need to work to keep it all in harmony so that it will sing a beautiful and joyous song of praise to God. We all need moments of indulgence where we care not just for our bodies but our souls as well.