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Rabbi Lyon's Blog - 10_4_16
05/07/2010 02:57 PM Posted by:

From the Desk of Rabbi David Lyon

by David Lyon

4-16-2010

Last week, Lisa and I went to see the movie, “Date Night” starring Tina Fey and Steve Carrell. This isn’t a movie review but it’s a lot better than commenting on this week’s Torah portion, Tazria-Metzora, which is about skin infections and bodily emissions. The movie is about a modest couple, both employed, two kids, babysitter, requisite dog and suburban home. Their marriage is in a rut after nearly 20 years. They barely have energy after work, they talk themselves into staying home on the weekend, and sex is about as interesting as dry toast.

Finally, they decided to throw caution to the wind and embark on a big-city dinner. The alternative was to go down the path of their friends whose marriage was failing. Upon arriving at a chic restaurant they learned that they would have to wait interminably for a table. When the hostess called a name and no one responded, they took a risk and pretended to be the people who didn’t show up for dinner. The rest of the movie is the result of their decision to have a little fun, to take a risk, and to shake things up a bit. You’re safe now to see the movie, because I won’t give away any more of it.

The madcap plot was everything they didn’t want to happen and everything they needed to happen. They discovered that their lifestyle suited them better than they knew. Being someone else or trading their problems for others’ was no way to solve the problems they thought they couldn’t overcome on their own. A modest suburban home with all their possessions and demands sounded like a perfect life for two people who just needed to save a little more time for themselves on a regular basis.

Date Night sounds a lot like what many of us need. Lisa and I have always reserved my day off for dinner out, alone. No kids, no friends. Just the two of us. We turn our cellphones off, find a quiet place for dinner, and talk. If the conversation falls silent for too long, we’ve learned how to ask each other, “Whatchya thinkin’?” It works every time. We talk about the kids, work, pressures, and pleasures. We usually conclude that the evening was just what we needed. When our kids were very young we’d come around the block on our way home, and before we entered the house we made sure they were in bed. Now, of course, we go to bed before they do, but our date night still means the same.

Come to think of it, date night has a lot to do with Tazria-Metzora. It’s a portion that defines boundaries of holiness. In ancient times, skin infections and bodily emissions were taboo, because they were strange and infectious. Torah describes how they were contained for the welfare of the community. After many years, marriage can produce its own taboos: topics of conversation to avoid, sexual issues that can’t be addressed, and the inevitable rut that is something no one wants to touch. When they are left unattended the home, the marriage and the kids become infected with apathy and everything falls apart.

The goal is to address the issues that are most difficult to address. In ancient times they had methods and formulas for dealing with taboo subjects and issues. Their goal was not to let things fester; but, rather to deal with them directly and turn what was once taboo into something sacred, again. We can do it, too. Date night is just a beginning for any couple that needs to address taboo topics in their marriage or relationship. Rather than let years of partnership be dissolved, Torah urges us to take on the topics directly and turn dry toast into French toast smothered with butter, syrup and powdered sugar.

From my family to yours, Shabbat Shalom.

_________________________________________________

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