The New Shul


This week’s two parshiyot, Tazria and M’tzora, explain the role of the priests in diagnosing leprosy, and in helping those who had recovered from the disease to make a transition back to normal life.

The Torah says that, in making the diagnosis, “the priest should look at the lesion” (Lev. 13:3). But then, a few words later, the Torah says that “the priest should look athim (i.e. the sufferer).” Why the shift in perspective?

According to the author of Siftei Tzadik, the Torah wanted to teach that it was not good enough for the priest simply to look at the disease. In order to be of help, he had to look at the whole person. Only by seeing the sufferer as a whole human being could the priest help him/her to begin to heal.

That is what the mitzvah of bikkur holim, visiting the sick, is all about. Illness tends to rob a person of his/her sense of self. The sufferer can easily start to feel like a set of symptoms, a diagnosis, a case, rather than a human being. The job of the visitor is to help restore the sufferer’s sense of self by seeing him/her as a whole person. By being truly present with one who is ill, by acknowledging that person as an image of God, we help him/her to become whole again. May we all, in that way, be healers to one another.

  • The New Shul’s Shabbat services are on Friday evenings from 6 to 7 pm, and on Saturday mornings from 9 am to 12 noon.
  • Childcare is available from 10 am to noon on Shabbat mornings.
  • Minyanim during the week are on Sunday mornings at 9:30 am, Monday evenings at 7 pm, Wednesday mornings at 7 am, and Wednesday evenings at 7 pm.
  • Shavuot begins on Saturday night May 19. Join us for our all-night Tikkun Leil Shavuot from 9:30 pm on Saturday night through dawn on Sunday morning.
  • The service for the second day of Shavuot, Monday May 21, will begin at 9 am and will include Yizkor, the memorial prayer.