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Parsha Poem: Tazria / תַזְרִיעַ

וַיִּקְרָא / vayikra / Leviticus 12:1-13:59:  Read ithear it.

Printable PDF version here.

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Inspired through my exhaustion by this tidy vort from an old teacher, Rabbi Neal Loevinger, though I don’t claim to have done it any kind of justice.

image Well, Shmuli was watching an old guy named Dan,

And he said, “I have never seen a lazier man,

Just look at him trudging so slowly along!” –

Not knowing his knees and hips weren’t strong.


But Shmuli did not care a whit for the cause –

Just judged others quickly, without any pause.

“How that girl eats!” he’d exclaim over salmon,

Not knowing she came from a land of great famine.


As Shmuli walked out in the streets of his town,

He’d mentally stop to observe and jot down.

“Why, that spoiled boy!” he’d proclaim very quick,

Not knowing the boy had lately been sick.


“But me, well, I’m another tale altogether,

Just strong and robust in all kinds of weather.”

“How thoughtful I am!” he’d reflect silently,

“If only those people would listen to me!”


To look at a person, you might think you know,

All of their reasons just from what they show.

That’s what you might think, but you wouldn’t be right;

You never know someone just from what’s in sight.

What’s outside is not what is inside at all;

The part that we see is impossibly small.

So we cannot judge others nor see ourselves true;

We have to leave that to the experts to do.


image Just who is an expert?  Well, that’s hard to say.

We don’t have those experts around in our day.

But kohanim could do it and that’s what we learn;

When it comes to judging, it’s never our turn.


You might think a skin blob was Tzara’as, or not,

You might sit and wonder about a white spot;

You might catch a glimpse of a friend’s freckled arm,

And see him anew with a sense of alarm.


But then you would stop and remember the rule;

No matter how much you’d learned in a school,

Tzara’as was not about what was outside,

But what lies within – that’s your only guide.


It’s more than skin deep, which a doctor can’t heal;

It’s about your neshama, so kohanim reveal.

So hold off your judging, dear Shmuli, at last;

Knowing you can’t judge your friends quite so fast.


שַׁבָּת שָׁלוֹם!