Is it Contagious?

As I glanced at this week’s Torah portion a few days ago, I saw that it was about contagious skin diseases. Blah! Just reading the words – “contagious” and “skin diseases” – gave me the creeps. I immediately felt itchy. I concluded that the chapter would provide no inspiration for this week’s blog post.

For some reason, however, my thoughts kept drifting back to the word “contagious.” The rabbis taught that a contagious skin disease was an outward manifestation of evil intentions or deeds. And, if you think about that association, it makes sense….one who behaves wickedly can spread ill will quickly and easily across an entire community.

I decided there was another angle to consider. Instead of interpreting “contagious” as a negative word, I realized that the spreading of something could actually be a good thing too. I began to wonder…what are examples of positive things in life that can be catching, transmittable, infectious, and communicable?

Here are a few samples for consideration:

  • A funny joke (laugh and tell others)
  • A story or experience (share great memories or feelings)
  • A hearty laugh (the kind that makes others laugh too)
  • A song to sing and dance to (hora? electric slide? cha cha?)
  • Expressive art forms (pieces to contemplate and discuss)
  • A hug (one that makes someone feel better)
  • A deep kiss (the kind that makes you feel faint)
  • A warm smile (brighten up the room)
  • Displays of happiness (things that bring cheer, like chocolate and flowers)
  • Acts of love, kindness, doing good deeds (help others)
  • Family traditions (pass meaningful things from generation to generation)
  • A positive attitude (create impact on others)
  • A great idea (inspire others)
  • Good recipes (share yummy food with others)
  • Gracious hospitality (invite and hosti others)
  • The pooling of human and financial resources for the betterment of others

As with many things in life, it’s about perspective. Do you see a glass as being half full or half empty? Do you run to do good or make trouble? Do you want to make positive change or just continue to complain about what’s not working well?

We live in a world with others. There are all kinds of things we can catch from each other. If something contagious is going around – something viral or of epidemic proportions – I hope it’s a good thing…something we are proud to catch and share with others.

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