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On the eve of Elul

08/31/2011

I’ve got tzara’at. You know — the Biblical oozing creeping scales & red spots. Otherwise known mistakenly as “leprosy” which I’ve written about here and here. Also known as unidentified bug bites (not bedbugs, however, thankfully — my sin wasn’t bad enough for that), perhaps spiders, who knows what, that got slightly infected & began to itch like there’s no tomorrow.

I went to the priest known as PromptCare and was given antibiotics, topical steroids, and a tetanus shot (just because it had been a while). Just having the diagnosis made me feel a whole lot better (despite the low-grade fever I didn’t know I had) and got me thinking about how damn scary any never-seen-before skin eruption would have been back in the day several thousand years ago when the only explanation was your lack of moral fiber, swamp gas, or small devil-like creatures — and the only medicine a poultice and time.

I’m not opposed to poultices on principal. This is actually the first time I’ve been to see a “regular” medical doctor for anything more than an annual exam in close to a decade. My health care of choice tends toward the alternative. But when I saw little inexplicable red lines branching out from these hive/bite things, it freaked me out. I’m in danger! Get me a cure!

Coincidentally, my tipping point — from unconcerned & annoyed to freaked out — came on the eve of the first day of the month of Elul, the month before the High Holy Days, a month designed for taking stock.

I consider this timing no coincidence, but rather a cosmic reminder in the midst of the final preparations for my stepdaughter Lonica’s wedding on Sunday. It is easy to get lost, when worrying about seating charts & flower delivery & the music playlist, in just how joyous an occasion this is, how lovely this sort of beginning. To forget about love and commitment and dreams.

It is also easy to forget that the rest of the world goes on — floods in Vermont, gunfire in Tripoli, death & destruction everywhere. A dear friend was admitted to the hospital yesterday with neurological symptoms and a suspicious brain scan. Another dear friend sits with her 93-year-old dying mother after a very rough couple months. Still another drove toward the bad weather on the East Coast 3 days ago to be with her father in the hospital. With all our medicines and advanced understanding, there are still mysteries. Still fear. Still things we cannot understand, predict, or fix.

My tzara’at will likely not kill me (pooh! pooh! pooh!). But dear readers, it does remind me to not take anything — not one damn thing — for granted. This is a blessed way to begin the month of Elul.

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And p.s., if you’re interested in a post about this week’s Torah portion, Shoftim (Judges), click here for last year’s offering.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Sarah Rubin permalink
    09/01/2011 2:33 pm

    Still mysteries…yes. And the mysterious can be terrifying, whether it is “good” or not. How many of us think we can shape, mold, create the future we want? How many of us give up because we think we have no control? And how do we find that in-between — the experience of mystery and unknown while continuing to assert some control (e.g. medical attention) and to plan, whether that planning be seating charts (some people will move themselves), or the wedding in general…one of my favorite symbols of hope for the future, for a future between the partners, for….

    • Sarah Rubin permalink
      09/01/2011 2:34 pm

      Let me add: מזל טוב!

  2. 09/02/2011 7:45 pm

    eek -wrote a long entry and somehow erased. my sympathies re ‘leprosy’. this visited me too and stumped 3 doctors – never officially diagnosed but now i have a handy dandy cream to apply.
    re life and taking life for granted – i ranted and raved to myself about ‘what’s next’ – what more do i need to bear – when i realized this is what living is all about. never felt so alive as when trying to solve a sticky issue; never felt so connected to friends as when we all rally when one is ill. life is worth living.
    shabbat shalom

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