Monday, April 4, 2011

The Blessing of the Living Bird

Parshat Metzorah
Vayikra 14:1 – 15:33
5 Nisan 5771 / April 8 – 9, 2011

The Blessing of the Living Bird
by Zvi Bellin, MHHQ

I find the ritual for cleaning the person afflicted with Tzara’at simply strange. Essentially, the Kohen takes two birds. He kills one bird and lets the blood drip into a clay pot with water. Then he takes the second bird and dips it into the water/blood mixture of the first bird. He sprinkles the blood that is covering the live bird on the newly cleansed person and then sets the live bird free.

I am not really sure what to make of this. But I wanted to highlight this ritual as I enjoy taking note of some of the bizarre practices that we have at our roots. I sometimes see Yogic community members walking around in orange or yellow robes, with their little bells and thin pony-tails sprouting from the top of their heads, and I think, “Hmmm…That is strange.”

If I was able to time travel back to the days of the Jewish people in the desert, or early Palestine, I would probably shout with fright and feel uneasy with the lavish dressing of the Priests, the uber-posh décor of the Temple, and the bloody worship rituals. It does make me feel less judgmental about other people’s practices when I think how strange Jewish people must have looked (and at times, still look) to outsiders.

There is something in this ritual though, that I really love. I feel joy when the Torah tells us that the live bird is set free. It is like ourselves and our souls. The live bird has experienced the trauma of witnessing and experiencing pain and suffering. It has been bloodied and shaken by outside forces, yet that was all temporary. It is able to spread its wings again and live on to experience new adventures, new sorrows and new joys.

I would like to bless us with the blessing of this living free bird. May we be able to accept the pain and sorrow of the world and continue to find the strength to spread our wings and soar.


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