“When you enter the land of Canaan that I give you as a possession, and I inflict an eruptive plague upon a house in the land you possess, the owner of the house shall come and tell the priest…” ( Leviticus 14:33)
Adults react to the Torah differently than children. Parashat Metzora is a case in point. Metzora describes how buildings that display tsara-at (introduced last week as skin diseases) are considered impure and must be purified. If the building can’t be purified (as determined by the priests), it is destroyed, to keep the impurity from spreading throughout the community. Most kids just scratch their heads at the idea of a building with a skin disease. Any homeowner who’s dealt with a wet basement or a mold problem, though, just sighs with empathy.
If you scratch beneath the surface, though (which is how the priest determines whether or not the house is impure), Metzora raises another issue more easily understood by children and adults alike: balancing the rights of the individual with the needs of the community. Metzorah’s message is clear: the needs of the community trump the rights of the individual (the impure house is destroyed). That’s because the Torah’s fundamental orientation is mitzvah, or commandment/obligation. Western society’s fundamental orientation is individual rights/entitlement. It usually takes a disaster to push individuals to waive their rights for the communal good.
JCCs are not in the purity business, nor are they in the home demolition business. JCCs are in business to inspire, encourage, and assist individual Jewish journeys. But how do JCCs balance that mission with inspiring, encouraging, and assisting individuals to connect to Klal Yisrael, the larger community of Israel?
Good Shabbos/Shabbat Shalom,