After the successful registration last weekend, campaigning has returned to South Africa. And, as a result, it is inevitable that there will be debates about race, empowerment of different classes and the status of foreigners in South Africa. Once again, political leaders will do battle trying to determine who is in and who is out. And, all too often, they will try to score points by being harsh on one group in our society and soft to others. In my humble opinion, this has nothing to do with the colour of our skin, reconcilliation, or real interest, this is unfortunately only politics. At times, when listening to the politician’s campaign, it will seem like they’re trying to determine who is acceptable to be a part of “our” group and who is not, rather than seeking to find ways to include everyone in society.
In this week’s Torah Portion, we appear to get a similar kind of situation where the Torah lays down a legal system and laws for who is considered clean and unclean. And, by virtue of a person’s uncleanliness, who needed to be removed or kept separate from the camp for a period of time. At first glance, when we look at this Torah portion, we may therefore assume that it is about exclusion, about searching out the unclean and excluding them from society. But I would suggest that it is the opposite. This part of the Torah serves as a reminder of the importance of finding ways to include all, so that when a person was removed from the camp because of the suspicion of leprosy, this was a temporary removal.
Ultimately they would be returned and re-admitted into the camp and into society because Judaism and the laws of Tazria-Metzora sought to find a way to include everyone and to find a way back for those who had once been excluded. My hope and my wish is that our politicians in this year’s election campaign follow the example of the bible and strife for inclusion rather than to polorise and to divide this society more that it already is.
Shabbat Shalom – Rabbi Adrian M Schell (Idea: Rabbi D Burkeman)
Torah Reading for Shabbat HaGadol / Metzora
Leviticus 14:1-15:33 (Reading Lev. 14:1 – 23; P p.752; H p.470);
Haftarah: Malachi 3:4-3:24 (P p.1459; H p.1005)
Torah Study with Rabbi Schell this Shabbat at 08h45
Podcast of Rabbi Schell’s weekly Sermons Tuesdays on Radio Today (10h30) or: http://goo.gl/LsHQrY.
In Parashat Metzora the Torah describes the purification ritual for people and homes afflicted with skin diseases; God also instructs Moses and Aaron regarding the laws of the emission of bodily fluids. The week we celebrate Shabbat HaGadol. “The great Shabbat” is the Shabbat immediately before Passover. There is a special Haftarah reading on this Shabbat of the book of Malachi. Traditionally, a lengthy and expansive sermon is given to the general community during the service, often in connection to Pesach and how to prepare oneself and the house for this special festival.