Rabbi David Paskin
Seeing the Full Person
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From Rabbi David
This week's parsha, Tazria, discusses impurity caused by a skin disease. The portion goes on at length as to what should be done to help the person heal and allow them to re-enter society.
There is a subtle shift that happens within the portion. At first, the Torah explains, that the priest goes and sees the skin ailment to determine whether it makes the person impure. After the infected person isolates, the priest returns and the Torah says that this time, the priest doesn't see just the skin affliction, but rather, the whole person. It is as if the Torah recognizes that sometimes it is hard to see a whole person, complex and unique, when distracted by something that seems out of place or ugly.
Perhaps then, this is the birthplace of the adage "don't judge a book by its cover." We are all multi-faceted beings with beauty and grace within us. This isn't just about physical appearance but also, how we appear to others through our actions. There are times when we all show ugliness or when we behave as if we want to infect the world with our pain. These moments are not the totality of who we are, nor should they be how the world judges us. Certainly we all must be held to account for our behavior and at the same time must be seen as fully, flawed human beings with the potential for good and beauty.
This is why there is nothing a child can do that will stop us from loving that child. They may need to learn new behaviors and understand that even little people can cause hurt and pain but as full human beings - they deserve nothing less than to be seen as such and loved as beings created in the image of God.