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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

In and Out

Updated: Apr 13, 2021

Parshiyot Tazria/Metzora are usually combined. They speak largely of a skin affliction and what happens if the affliction is discovered. What do you do if it is discovered on your hands, on your head, in your home. The Parsha also discusses bodily fluids that are secreted, whether by men or women. Blood or semen change a person's status and there are various steps that need to be taken until a person's baseline status is restored.

In VaYikra 36:13 it says, כָּל־יְמֵ֞י אֲשֶׁ֨ר הַנֶּ֥גַע בּ֛וֹ יִטְמָ֖א טָמֵ֣א ה֑וּא בָּדָ֣ד יֵשֵׁ֔ב מִח֥וּץ לַֽמַּחֲנֶ֖ה מוֹשָׁבֽוֹ׃ (ס) "He shall be unclean as long as the disease is on him. Being unclean, he shall dwell apart; his dwelling shall be outside the camp."

Whether it is a man or a woman, a person who is afflicted with Tzaraat lives outside the camp. The following two poems attempt to explore the differences of being on the outside of the camp and the inside of the camp.

There is lots to learn from Tazria-Metzora. Whether it is looking at how Kohanim carefully checked and considered whether someone was infected, to childbirth and how long women have to wait until they can return to society, to thinking about how tumah (a change in status) is spread from person, rather than being dry and boring Parshiyot, Tazria-Metzora makes you think, and allows you to consider the pandemic of the last year and the various statuses which are assigned to people who are afflicted and then return to society.

For more on Tazria-Metzora .

IN I tiptoe around

the camp,

watching where I step,

surrounded by people

so many people.

Our noisy camp bumps and shouts,

shuffles and struts,

tents and fire pits,

desert dust whistles in our noses. Sounds of people living too close together. Arguments and laughter,

babies crying.

Sounds of life and waiting.

We follow the Fire We follow the Cloud We are always ready

to follow.

Our lives are not simple; a multitude of rules to follow .

So much to remember. These rules are heavy, they weigh upon me.

How we appear, our skin, our hair

our eyebrows, our lashes. Where we step What we touch

Who not to embrace. What to avoid at all costs.

Action and waiting

In and out

By day we must watch ourselves By night as well Our most personal moments

follow a system we must learn,

abide by and respect. Always my eyes are open.

I am aware, I am awake. Keep your distance. Watch carefully.

No one stays on the inside forever.


I am on the outside

the camp is over there.

Do you see it from here?

The heat's haze blurs the lines.

I sit in the stillness.

Hot winds blow around me.

My shawl shelters me from the heat of day

and the dust of night.

By midday I seek shade.

I am not alone here.

There are others.

We sit in the silence and wait.

From here I see the camp

The movement of the tents in the wind.

rippling like muddy waves.

I see children running,

the old sit,

the young pace,

always preparing,

Scurrying about,

waiting to follow the cloud.

I cannot see the place of sacrifice

but I smell the pungent smoke,

It is pleasant in my nose.

It is my connection

to the inside

I am not idle as I sit under the blue sky,

waiting for my status to change.

My mind is active.

The quiet brings me back

to stories of crossings,

I can feel the waters cool my feet

I know how it is to wander, to follow.

I squint upwards

as desert birds fly high above me.

I picture my little brothers

I daydream about my return.

I dream of my husband on the other side.

I am patient.

I wait.

I create.

In my heart I know

life is a series of ins and outs.

Sometimes we are on the inside,

and sometimes we are on the outside.

Both have their time and place.

Sometimes we give and sometimes we take.

Sometimes we do and sometimes we watch.

Sometimes we bruise and sometimes we heal.

Sometimes we create and sometimes we wait.

"A time for throwing stones and a time for gathering stones, A time for embracing and a time for shunning embraces."

Kohelet 3:5-7 (Translation from Sefaria)

עֵ֚ת לְהַשְׁלִ֣יךְ אֲבָנִ֔ים וְעֵ֖ת כְּנ֣וֹס אֲבָנִ֑ים עֵ֣ת לַחֲב֔וֹק וְעֵ֖ת לִרְחֹ֥ק מֵחַבֵּֽק׃ A time for throwing stones and a time for gathering stones, A time for embracing and a time for shunning embraces;

עֵ֤ת לְבַקֵּשׁ֙ וְעֵ֣ת לְאַבֵּ֔ד עֵ֥ת לִשְׁמ֖וֹר וְעֵ֥ת לְהַשְׁלִֽיךְ׃ A time for seeking and a time for losing, A time for keeping and a time for discarding;

עֵ֤ת לִקְר֙וֹעַ֙ וְעֵ֣ת לִתְפּ֔וֹר עֵ֥ת לַחֲשׁ֖וֹת וְעֵ֥ת לְדַבֵּֽר׃ A time for ripping and a time for sewing, A time for silence and a time for speaking;

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