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    Heredity & environment – Tazria

    mother with childrenThe sidra starts with heredity – the birth of the child to two parents who symbolise the family’s heritage, and it continues with environment – the healthy surrounds in which the newborn will be trained and brought up.

    Though the Torah text speaks of the damage that disease and unhealthy practices can cause, the rabbinic sages understood it also as conveying a moral dimension.

    Just as parents would not want their child to be harmed by physical infections and epidemics, so they have to be on constant guard to protect him or her from moral deficiencies that mar the milieu and affect the values and ethos of the environment. Just as we do not want our children to catch diseases, so we must exert ourselves to save them from negative influences that threaten them with moral impurity.

    Health and hygiene come in two forms, literal and metaphorical, and both have to be high up on parents’ agendas for their children.

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