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Real-Life Pinocchio

Friday, 16 April, 2010 - 2:30 pm

My children love reading the Where’s Waldo books. Some of them are easier than others. I must admit that I still have trouble with the page in one of the books where the real Waldo is hiding amongst all the other Waldos. It’s one thing to pick Waldo out of a crowd. But it really is a skill to discern between a fake Waldo and a real Waldo.

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In this week’s Torah portions of Tazria and Metzorah we read about an ancient spiritual ailment called Tzaraat. Many translators use the word leprosy to describe Tzaaat. But really it was a spiritual illness that physically affected the body in similar fashion to leprosy. The Talmud teaches that the punishment of Tzarrat resulted as a consequence of Lashon Harah (evil talk, gossip and slander).

My son Dovid has a great book that brings to life this ailment using the analogy of goose bumps. Certainly, we’ve all had scary or eerie moments that have caused goose bumps. Have you ever taken a moment to recognize that your body is physically responding to an emotion?

Well, that’s what Tzaraat was all about.  A physiological response to a spiritual problem. Someone who spoke ill of another received an all-too-public reminder that he stuck out from the crowd.

It was a real-life version of Pinocchio.                            

Today, we no longer have the material evidence of our faulty tongue. But reading about it alone should inspire a more careful choice of words and feelings.

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