Monday, April 4, 2011

TBE Bar/Bat Mitzvah Commentary: Rebecca Satz on Tazria

Hi … I mean Shabbat Shalom!

It was just my luck to get this portion!!!! All this stuff about disease and especially leprosy…not the easiest portion to talk about!

But actually, the portion is perfect for me – not that I have leprosy! What’s interesting is that while the portion speaks about disease, the person who cares for the patient is not a doctor. Instead, he’s a priest – a Cohen – who does the healing. The Cohen was like the doctor of those times, but healing wasn’t purely medical. The main ingredient was to take the patients who were isolated, to purify them and prepare them to come back to their community. It was the priest’s job above all to bring them home.

Speaking of healing and bringing people home, it’s fitting that my favorite TV show is a program about a doctor named “House.” But Dr. House is the exact opposite of the Cohen. The Cohen is not a doctor or a scientist and can’t cure diseases, but he cares about the patient. House on the other hand, is a doctor, but he hates interacting with patients and prefers dealing with diseases. Some have compared him to Sherlock Holmes. For House, the patient doesn’t matter. It’s the disease that challenges him, not the person who has it.

He’s not a very nice guy.

As the show has continued, we’ve found out more about why Dr. House is so obnoxious. As much as he finds cures for others, his patients and co-workers are helping to cure him – they continually help him to grow and be a better person.

In a strange way, Dr. House is inspiring me. I want to be a neurologist because of my interest in this show. I also love animals and may want to be a vet. Either way I want to help heal others and bring them back to the community.

For my mitzvah project, I’ve been volunteering at a local animal hospital, where I’ve gotten to see the vets help the animals and try to diagnose their illnesses. One time, I even saw a cat go into cardiac arrest. I was stunned to see it. The doctors immediately put a cat oxygen mask on the animal and pumped air into its lungs. Thankfully the cat started to breathe again and when I went home, he was doing better. This incident confirmed my desire to heal others – people and animals – as my life’s work.

But being a lawyer would be my backup!!

The other half of my mitzvah project is to collect food to send to Jewish soldiers for Passover. In that way, I’ll help them to feel at home – much like the Cohen helped leprosy patients find their way back home. So much of what it takes to heal is all about reaching out and bringing people home – back to the “House,” so to speak. Passover is a great time to do that – to bring people together and make them feel at home.

As I become a bat mitzvah, I hope to bring some healing to the world, to help people feel at home even when they’re not, to be able to cure disease and to love the patient too –whether or not I can heal them.

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