Parashat Metzora opens with the ritual that brings a metzora, a leper, back into the camp. The kohen (priest) must go outside the camp, where the metzora is waiting. The ritual is bloody and messy; the leper’s “welcome home” gift is a basket full of twigs, leaves, and dead bird’s blood.
Why isn’t this person, who was pushed out of their community, welcomed back with fanfare, or allowed to slip back in unnoticed?
Transitions are rarely clean. When re-engaging, whether we were pushed out, or returning after seeking space outside, we are vulnerable. We need to be reached out to with openness, and we need opportunities to name the difficulty and messiness.
If we want to welcome people to our communities on campus, we need to go meet them. They might not come in on their own. We need to leave our comfort zones, even if it means meeting the messy and uncomfortable.
Avishai Gebler is the Rabbinic Intern at Williams College and a fourth-year rabbinical student at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah.