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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

The Others

Updated: Jul 14, 2021

Parshat Devarim, the first parsha in the final book of Torah, is an account of who the Israelites had to avoid, to conquer, to bypass on their way to the land promised to them. A number of nations are named, among them are the Amorites, the Moabites, the Anakites as well as others.

Over the past years and probably since history has been recorded, people have been divided into groups, the "us" and the "them." The "them" or the "other" have developed different customs, languages and ways to accomplish things in their own distinct way. Sometimes the "other" is respected and welcomed. Often times the "other" is looked at differently, and not always with a positive light. The "other" has also been a term used politically over the centuries in ways that are not productive.

This brief poem encourages us to consider how we see the "other" in our own time and perhaps to see the "other" differently.

The Others

The Others are everywhere

We see them,

we consider them

perhaps consciously,

or perhaps their place in us

is deep and hidden

even to ourselves.

The Others are different from us

They are bigger and that makes us feel small

or they are smaller and that make us feel ungainly.

The Others are richer and they don’t share

or the Others are poorer

and they squander valuable resources .

The Others are smarter and conniving,

scheming to take over our space.

Or the Others lack basic intelligence

and cannot perform as well as we do.

The Others control everything

or they can’t take control of anything at all

and leave us to do all the work.

The Others are lazy and take advantage

or they are too ambitious,

stealing jobs away from us.

The Others.

We don't understand them.

Their language is different from ours.

Their customs foreign.

They make trouble

even when they don't.

We are troubled.

The Others.

The Others.

They are incapable

or they are sly and too capable

They squander.

They waste.

They do things differently

from us.

They don’t look like us.

The don't speak like us.

They don’t eat like us.

They don't dress like us.

They don’t pray like us.

They are The Others.

The Others live there,

on the other side.

We live here,

far from them.


The Others live among us.

We see them through narrowed eyes

or we choose not to see them

at all.

The Others won’t let us in


The Others won’t let us out


They let everyone in.

They take too much.

They give too much.

They deprive us of what’s ours.

Our given rights denied.

They, they, they.

The Others.

So necessary in the life

of a society

The enemy

The ones we blame.

The ones we fail to understand.

The ones we fail to see.

Fail to welcome.

It makes us so much bigger

so much better,

so right,

so justified.

So chosen.

This day I begin to put the dread and fear of you upon the peoples everywhere under heaven, so that they shall tremble and quake because of you whenever they hear you mentioned.

BaMidbar 2:25 (Translation from Sefaria)

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