Physician, Heal Thyself
A man stopped in our village today. They said he came from Galilee, and was traveling and teaching all across Judea. We have our own teachers, and they all know the law--but there were so many stories about this one. Miriam had heard that he was a most beautiful man, like an angel of God, and I couldn't start to separate truth from tale in all the signs he was said to have performed: everything from turning water into wine to bringing a young girl back from the dead.
It was not until my husband came back from synagogue full of deep thoughts that I decided to have a look myself. (I have three children, and Zech is clumsy with dye--I run this business and don't usually have time to waste on foolishness.)
So I made an excuse to go the well a second time, late in the day. That's where I could hear crowded voices, including a rich one that seemed to be telling stories, or perhaps reciting Torah.
I drew water, and then stood in the sunlight and listened. Watched.
He was not beautiful. That was a lie. He was tall, with dark rich hair, but his shoulders stooped. His hands were strong and rough all over, the hands of a man who has worked stone or wood for years. His face was one you might have passed in any street, except for the tight ripple to the skin that pulled one side of his mouth up in a perpetual smile.
But I saw his touch close the unhealing wound on Jacob's knee. He put out both hands and lifted little Ashur to his feet, which suddenly straightened, until the child was running and jumping through the crowd. He kissed Naomi on the forehead, and the child-sadness lifted from her and she smiled at him.
How could one heal who was not healed?
I asked Zech that night. He shrugged. “The Law requires only priests to be without defect.” He sounded uncertain, but he knows Torah, so we both knew he was right. “God's spirit touches whom He wishes.”
Some of our lawyers seemed to think differently. The next day I saw them confronting the man near the market. “Physician, heal thyself,” one of the teachers said to him.
The man laughed. “That's not why I'm here. That's not the point. I'm here to be your brother and son and father. Not a statue carved to show only the perfection of stone. It is not the written law that is holy, but the law spoken and active, and that, while whole, is not what you would consider perfect.”
When he laughed, you could barely see the scar.