In the Torah portion this week, the priests of ancient Israel find that their religious responsibilities include a role as a public health official. With ritual and commandment, they help individuals confront a particular disease. Physical health is an important component of spiritual well-being, and the priest has an important role to play in both. Their goal is to help bring into the world health and healing, wholeness and holiness.
I am not a priest of ancient Israel. I am not a doctor or a medical researcher. I can’t cure cancer or heal an ailing child. But I can raise awareness of pediatric cancer and raise money for research into its cures. And I will shave my head tonight, along with so many of my rabbinic colleagues, in order to do so. We stand together in the proud tradition of those seek the spiritual and physical well-being of others. And our goals are the same as our priestly forbearers: to bring into the world health and healing, wholeness and holiness.