Most of the portion Tazria deals with the laws of tzara'at, leprosy. In one part, it says leprosy can occur in three places: on the individual, on his or her clothes, or on his or her house. The Talmud says that worthy are those who the Creator gave the tools and gifts of: the tefilin, that we wear on our head and our arm, the tzitzit, that we wear either in our clothing or tallit, and the mezuzah, that we put on our door. The kabbalists explain that these three tools represent the three parts of our lives: our body, the things that we own (clothing), and our home. Therefore, they tell us a person who uses these three tools can purify these – and all - elements of their life.
In the Talmud, Rabbi Eliezar, the son of Yaakov, says, "Every person who uses these tools every day will not sin,” meaning he will not do anything negative that day. It says that if we use these three tools we are protected, because the angels of the Creator stand around the individual who uses them. The Rambam also said that a person who uses the tefilin, the tzitzit, and has a mezuzah on his or her door will not fall, because those actions create angels that will protect them.
However, is this true? How could the kabbalists 2,000 years ago make the statement that if you use these three tools, you will not fall? It is just not true; we know many people, ourselves included, who use these tools every day and fall. So, how could they say that once someone uses these three tools, they have angels surrounding them and they will be protected? The answer is that it is not actually just about these tools; my father, Rav Berg, always told us that “Consciousness is everything,” and that is what applies here, because using the tools means nothing without consciousness. We are not able to awaken the Light and angels that we are meant to from them unless our consciousness is there. And this is true about every tool that we use, not just the tefilin, the tzitzit, and the mezuzah.
How many of us have the consciousness as we are using these tools that, "I am creating angels that are going to protect me"? How many of us, when we open up the Zohar and read from it, really have the consciousness, "As I am reading these words, I am creating the angels that are going to protect me today"? When was the last time we looked at the mezuzah in our house, and took the time to think, "This tool is going to create the angels to protect me, my family, and my house"? Because unless we have that consciousness constantly, the mezuzah is not doing anything but sitting on the door, and all the Light and the protection that all these tools are meant to awaken and create for us do not surround us.
Therefore, when the Talmud says very clearly, "If you do this right...,” what does doing it “right” mean? It means doing it with real consciousness. Those who use these tools and have consciousness around them cannot fall. It is very important, and I hope causes a shift for all of us in understanding the tools. Using them means nothing and does not have the effect for which they were given to us unless we take the time to come to them with the consciousness that, "As I am doing this action, I am creating the angels that are going to protect me;" without doing that, it is like the action itself is nothing, because we are not receiving the protection or the Light from that action.
As such, next time we open up the Zohar, put on our tallit, or look at our mezuzah, we need to ask ourselves if we are doing it because we think we’re supposed to and that it’s the right thing to do, or if we’re doing it with the consciousness that we are creating angels that will surround us and protect us. If we are not doing it with this consciousness, it’s like we’re not even doing it, because we are not creating the angels and receiving the Light and protection these tools are meant to give us. And so, from this understanding we receive on Shabbat Tazria, I really hope that we all start using these tools differently. Because most of us do not receive the angels, Light, and protection that these tools are meant to give us. Yet, if we come to them with consciousness, then we can create those angels, create that Light, and receive that protection.