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Sending the Sick Outside the Camp

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Who are our modern-day metzoraim, the people who are pushed outside of normal society and keep distant and hidden from everyone else?

The metzora is not a leper, but he is much like one. He has a serious skin disease and is sent outside of the Israelite camp, in an area that would eventually become outside of the city walls of the Land of Israel. We are told that he himself must announce his impure status – “‘Impure! Impure!’ He shall call out.” He must warn everyone to keep their distance, and he is then sent outside of the camp – “בָּדָ֣ד יֵשֵׁ֔ב – He must live alone. Outside of the camp is his dwelling place” (Leviticus 13:46).

The case of the metzora challenges us to think who in our society are those people whom we have cast outside, people with whom we would rather not engage or ideally even see because they make us uncomfortable, because we are afraid of catching what they have?

Initially, I had seen this as a metaphor for those with disabilities, a topic that is close to my heart. As a parent of two boys on the Autism spectrum, I have felt more than once the harsh sting of “impure,” the active and passive ways that my children were excluded from community, friends, and Jewish institutions. And historically speaking, those with disabilities, particularly those with developmental and social-emotional ones, were put in insane asylums and other institutions, kept out of sight and mind of “civilized”........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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