It's pretty easy to get grossed out reading the double portion of Tazria-Metzora, which is chock full of details about postpartum bleeding and skin infections – things that we don't particularly like to think about. And the fact that these things make you tamei (“impure” or “unclean”) so you have to be isolated, quarantined, sent out of the camp can be even more disturbing to think about.
But as we know, there are times when we bleed, get zits, injuries or bronchitis. Internal shame or external stigma can cause us to feel isolated in the midst of the crowd. Sometimes a serious illness or trauma, mental health crisis or sexual violence, can really send us out of the camp(us), especially if others don't want to hear about it. Even supporting someone else going through this can affect us.
Ignoring our blemishes, our wounds, our differences, our conflicts, doesn't make them go away. Tazria-Metzora calls us to look directly at the big and small things that isolate members of our campus communities, as a first step towards health, change and reintegration, with our Hillels as tents providing shelter for those in a tender time.
Cantor Abbe Lyons, Jewish Chaplain-Hillel at Ithaca College, Interim Executive Director-Hillel at Binghamton