Fair Lawn Jewish Center Logo

Today is January 18, 2018 -

Torah Parashat Tazria-Metzora

Projection – It’s Not Just What Happens in a Movie Theater

The Torah portion speaks about a peculiar type of skin disease, tza’ra’at in Hebrew, often mistranslated as leprosy. When we read about its symptoms in the Torah, we see that they correspond to no known illness.
It is some type of mysterious ailment. The person who was afflicted with that illness, according to the Torah, “…shall cover his upper lip; and he shall call out, ‘Impure! Impure!'” (Leviticus 13:45). A comment from Shnei Luchot Habrit, written by Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz, tells us that “We can read this [verse to learn a lesson]. The impure person has a imperfection, impurity, but by saying, the word “Impure” to others he is saying that his impurity also exists in those who hear that word.” That is, a person who finds fault with others is really projecting his own faults and imperfections onto others. As the sages had said, (Kiddushin 70a) “One criticizes others the fault he himself possesses.” In this interpretation correct? Do we really find faults in others that we ourselves possess? I don’t know the full answer to these questions. The comment I quoted reminds me of the term, “projection” as it is used in psychology. In that field it means “the unconscious ascription of a personal thought, feeling, or impulse, especially one considered undesirable, to somebody else.” Is that common? Is it more common than any known skin disease? I hope we can become more conscious of our own failings whether we see them in others or not, and try to remove them.