Shabbat Shalom with a Heart Healthy Dose of Torah – Tazria
Warning – I am about to rant. I get a regular news feed on my phone. It evolves every few hours, as the day progresses (or regresses). I get updates on the war, politics, sports, and everything else. It’s a pretty well-rounded newsfeed, most of the time. Lately, the amount of time/articles devoted to Will Smith and Chris Rock (and Jada Pinkett Smith) speaks volumes about what’s wrong with the country.
First, we are all a tizzy over the way rich people are behaving at an event for rich people awarding each other for making millions of dollars in order to grow more attraction to their movies making them even more wealthy. White, Black, Gay, Straight – whatever – their “news” take up more airtime than book bannings, the failure of our education systems, inner-city crime and isolation, oh, and, don’t forget that there is a war happening that threatens to accelerate, horrific political corruption that manifests in the highest offices and positions in our country’s government, and Davante Adams is no longer a Green Bay Packer.
Seriously, the slap at the Oscars was not the shot heard around the world – until the tabloids made it so. It was wrong for a host of reasons – even under the weirdest of conspiracy theories. In fact, that so much energy has been placed in investigating the potential conspiracies that might have brought the event to us live on the air tells me we are in trouble. Perhaps it was for ratings. I promise you that there is more attention being given to the Oscars this year than collectively over the past many.
There is a war happening – several wars happening. Racism is real. The cost of medical care contributes to the death of everyone who can’t afford it. Gender and religious discrimination are real. Attacks on people over gender identity or fluidity happen only on account of hate and ignorance is real. Ok, this country may all agree that we are in the midst of a constitutional crisis. The problem is that we are on the brink of a violent civil war on the matter of who is correct about the other side’s violations.
All this – and we are screaming for Will Smith to lose his Oscar. For all those who say that it is a top story because these celebrities speak on our behalf and condemn us because of their behaviors; I can only say, “Really? Your life story depends on how actors behave?”
This week, Torah talks to us about a disease that is so contagious that it requires us to leave camp. Whether it is leprosy, AIDS, COVID, or evil speech, the idea is that if one becomes so badly infectious, they put all others at risk. While we ache at the thought of expelling (quarantining) a loved one from our midst, we know the choice must often be made. Spock told Kirk, as he was dying of radiation poisoning, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one.” Is myopia a deadly disease? Is privilege a deadly disease? Are we – even the poor here – so privileged that a Hollywood skirmish/stunt is the most important threat to our community and our country?
What do we do when it is the many who threaten the sanctity and safety of society and it is the one who is trying to make sense of it all? Spock also said, “In critical moments, men sometimes see exactly what they want to see.” Who is the diseased one to be quarantined? Society wants to focus on a wealthy man slapping another wealthy man – garnering both more fame and attention.
I hope that Will, Chris, and Jada work it out. I pray that we figure out that even if they don’t, it will not bring down the cost of prescription drugs, make peace in the Middle East or between Russia and Ukraine, resolve the political ugliness and power-mongering that purports to serve as governance, or restore the sanctity of humanity into each other’s soul. Let’s talk about what’s really important.