The D’var Torah below was written by Joe Lichtenstein (Temple Emanuel, Roanoke, Virginia), a freshman in NFTY-MAR.
Parsha Metzora is written with unbelievable detail. It is full of specific instructions which teach us methods of cleansing those who have fallen into sickness. It also introduces the idea of holiness through sacrifice even if the form of sacrifice changes over time. The detail of both the cleansing and sacrificial steps in the parsha call to mind a special kind of attention to detail in our own lives. Part of what makes Judaism and the Torah so special is how it’s not only flexible, but personable. Meaning, it can be applied in so many different ways and in so many different situations, just depending on the person. So, I tried to find a way to apply this to my life, and maybe you’ll be able to apply it to yours as well.
For all of my life, my grades in school haven’t really been a problem. I did well in my classes and I enjoyed school. I loved learning and going to school, but my grades started to slip the beginning of this year, my freshman year. I think it was a combination of high school, and just being very busy. My life started to revolve around the negative details that were my grades. At least ten times a day I would think about Spanish and how poorly I’d done on the previous test, or the huge chapter test in another class. These negative details literally changed how I lived day to day. All I did all day was focus on these negative details, and they caused me to feel poorly. The thing is, I had plenty of positive details in my life as well, i just couldn’t bring them to focus! Things like our new puppy, or basketball. I just, for whatever reason, didn’t focus on them, and that’s what caused me to feel the way I did. Don’t get me wrong, the only way the negative details in our lives will go away is if we work to make them go away. BUT, if we’re always in the negative, we’ll never be happy. I challenge all of us, you and me, to look at the details in our lives, both positive and negative, and start involving the positive details in our lives even more. It can never hurt to involve those positive details, and will always help day to day.
The amount of details in one day in our lives is an amount that I can’t fathom. We process so much, yet sometimes it slips out. And sometimes, it’s easier to remember the unpleasant and negative things than the pleasant and positive things. I’d like everyone to please close their eyes. Clear your brain of all stress and negativity. Take one breath in, and one breath out. Think about where we are right now. Think about who you’re surrounded by. It’s details like this that we should remember more.
We know that there are negative things in our world today. Things like terrorism, genocide and even Donald… just kidding. So much of our time and energy is focused on these negative things that we forget the positive things in life. We forget that we’re part of such a positive community like NFTY-MAR. We forget that the world really is good at heart, it just has some things it needs to work out. And some days, we even forget that on the first day of kindergarten, a day full of terror and fright, that our bus drivers, our teachers, our families, – like my bus driver, on that scariest first day of kindergarten- can help us see the positive within our negative, help us see the positive even in what we’re afraid of, and we can do the same for each other.
Metzora, in essence, is a call to make the important details in our lives reflect holiness and positivity. We must train ourselves to be able to arrange our details in a way that would reflect G-d and G-d’s image. It is up to you to make that happen.
NFTY MAR, our life is what we make of it. If day by day, we focus on the negative, we can never be happy and successful. But everyday, if you just take one minute and think about positive details in your day, I can promise it will improve the way you live and work immensely. Now I’m no Matt Marks, but I’d like to leave you with a quote. Alice Morse Earle once said “Everyday may not be good, but there’s something good in everyday.” Shabbat Shalom.