Vaera: Plagued by the Parsha

I knew it was a mistake to take on so much Torah reading this week. I ought to have learned my lesson by now. But when the minyan gabbai (who is thankfully no longer myself!) called to ask me if I would read the majority of the ten plagues this week, I got excited about the drama of the story, and agreed, perhaps too readily. Since then, I have been afflicted by the Parsha Syndrome – the events I am leyning have started to shape my life in ways that are most unwelcome….

Let’s see, where did it begin? First, I woke up early in the week with beating, pounding tooth pain. I felt like someone was dropping several pounds of mortar and bricks on me, all of which were landing squarely in the tiny surface area of one of my top left teeth. The more I felt oppressed, the more the pain increased and spread out, so I came to dread the pain.

Finally I appeared before the dentist, who had been in the middle of a root canal treatment on one of my other teeth. “What would you like me to do about the pain,” he asked. “Take it away!” I pleaded. “And when would you like me to do that?” he asked. “Tomorrow!” I cried. (I still haven’t figured that one out. Tomorrow?) He said, “I will do in accordance with your word, so that you know that there is no one like your great dentist.” His fingers were in my mouth during much of this conversation, though I think I still got the message across in spite of
my impeded speech.

The dentist prescribed antibiotics, and I promptly filled the prescription. The next morning, I woke up with a few red spots on my legs. It looked as if someone had taken soot from a kiln and thrown it up to the sky, so it all landed on my thighs. By the afternoon, the red dots had spread all over the surface of my lower body, so that no one was able to see my lower body. Then it spread, and only in the region of my face were there no dots. I itched all over, as if infested with lice or with a very severe pestilence.

Then I summoned the doctor at Terem and said to her, “I plead with you to remove these spots from my lower body.” The doctor told me that I was allergic to the antibiotics, but I should keep taking them lest the tooth flare up again. To relieve the itching, she prescribed antihistamines. When seven days had passed, she told me, I would finish with the antibiotics and be myself again.

The doctor did not tell me, though, that antihistamines make you drowsy. And so I got into bed and stayed awake itching, but then slept late into the mornings. I would try to wake up in the morning and feel a very heavy darkness surrounding me, a darkness so heavy that I could feel it. For three days I could not get up from bed, and I missed daf yomi and swimming and arrived bleary-eyed at work. I began to wonder: How long would this continue to be a snare to me?

Today I had to make another dentist’s appointment to deal with the infection that led me to take the antibiotics in the first place. I was supposed to see the dentist as soon as possible, but I know better than that. I scheduled the appointment for two weeks from now, parshat
Beshalach, when we are safely out of Egypt and free of the plagues. Given that I’ll probably leyn next week too, I’m not taking any chances.

–Chavatzelet Herzliya