Parshat Tazria-Metzorah/Yom Hashoa
Rabbi Denise L. Eger
This week observed Yom HaShoa, Holocaust Memorial Day. The blood of 6 million murdered Jews still cries out to us today. Jews who lived throughout Europe and North Africa and the Mediterranean were systematically and cruelly murdered at the hands of the Nazi’s and Axis Forces of World War II. Can a people ever really recover from such horrors? The impact on the Jewish People is still being felt. The wounds and scars are still present from such deep victimization.
Increasingly there are few of the survivors left. Old age has taken its toll. That is why it is more incumbent upon us than ever before to observe this day in Jewish life. To light a yellow candle, to recite the Kaddish for those whose lives were snuffed out in Concentration Camps and Ghettos, in towns and train cars, in the forests of Europe. We need to say Kaddish for those who starved to death or were gassed or gunned down. Or those who died of disease that ran rampant during those years as typhus outbreaks infected whole villages.
Today there are estimated a little over 13 million Jews. Imagine how strong and healthy are numbers would be if 6 million of us survived and the more than a million Jewish children who perished during those years had grown to have their own children!
And yet we have survived as a people and even thrived despite the hole in our hearts.
Our resilience is in the fabric of our People. Resilience is the trait we Jews have learned to call upon whenever we have faced adversary. Resilience and Hope are the two ideas that our tradition teach us and help us to reframe our essence through prayer and community! It is the remnant of our people that still connected and made community that stoked the growth and rebuilding of our people.
This week’s Torah portion (as followed in Israel) Tazria-Metzorah is a double portion, two portions together. It is a Torah portion that speaks to what happens when people, houses, and fabrics have become contaminated with a contagion. The Torah speaks of a kind of leprosy but it can be mildew, mold, or read even as a spiritual uncleanliness. The Priest must examine the individual or garment or building and a process and ritual for purification is performed.
So too, the contagion of victimization plagues our people, understandably so. But these many years later as we have grown and thrived. As the State of Israel was reborn out of the ashes of the Shoa and is a strong nation, and the Jewish community around the world is strong we too need rituals of purification to help us cast away the shame and hurt and dehumanization of those years so that we can fully remember and recall and stand tall for our family and friends who perished.
May their memory live for a blessing.