Dear Beit Sefer Families,
A person being purified from skin disease stays seven days “michutz lamachaneh” outside the camp. I am struck by this concept “michutz lamachaneh,” outside the camp. In my mind, I see the camp full of people going about their regular lives, not thinking about the person who is “michutz lamachaneh” and I see the person who is “michutz lamachaneh” very aware of her own isolation and separateness. How easy it is when you are part of a group, to forget the isolation and separateness of the outsider. When I schmooze with familiar faces at Oneg, do I notice a newcomer who is not schmoozing? When I am in the grocery store buying healthy food for my family, do I think of the families that can’t afford healthy food, or any food? Do I do something about it? As I walk in and out of doctors offices with my continued health, do I think of those who are ill? Do I reach out to them? When my family spends time together, do I think of those who are forced to live apart from their families for work or service? What do I do for them? As I read to my children and enjoy the benefits of my own education, do I think of those who cannot access an education? What do I do about it? I am lucky to be part of many privileged groups. How often do I think of those who do not share my privileges?
In the Torah portion being “michutz lamachaneh” is a temporary condition. The person returns to the camp after seven days. I wonder what it feels like to return to the camp. How does the person returning to camp see her surroundings after being separate for seven days? How would our views of our own lives be different if we were returning from seven days of being “mitchutz lamachaneh?” Perhaps it is only when we lose a privilege for a while that we learn to truly appreciate what it means to have that privilege. Once it is returned to us, what obligation do we have to remember those less privileged?
Today I am looking around my camp, my privileges and my surroundings and feeling very lucky and appreciative. And, I’m wondering what I am going to do about it.