Parshat Metzora: The Purist

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Paint Roller
10 Apr 2008
Arts & Media

As insensitive as it may sound,

Sensitivity is not always synonymous

With the human condition:

We can very well hurt someone

And remain immune to their pain.


Everything is in effect –


Cause ‘n’ effect:

Nothing we do or don’t

Do is inconsequential.

(Just because we aren’t

Always conscious of the

Fact, doesn’t mean the

Fact isn’t so)

The only question is:


Pure or impure?


We say the right thing,

Write the right word,

Help someone –

A pure consequence.


The wrong thing, the

Wrong word, hurt

Someone – an impure



It’s as simple and painful

As that.


Purity is sensitive;

Impurity, insensitive.


It comes in many different shapes and sizes

Does impurity:

On bodies, clothes, homes.

It can be a part of us; we can

Dress up in it; we can live in it.

But these shapes and sizes

Only tell one angle of the story:

You see, some impurities may be skin-deep –

This one isn’t.


We see facades, faces

Results; but facades,

Faces and results are

Merely the painting

Not the painter.


We see a skin, an exterior blemished, but can we

Even imagine the marks on the inside?


Purity comes in just one shape and size:

The soul truth.


This shall be the law

Of the metzora

On the day of his



We make mistakes.

Sometimes we hurt the people

That matter most, our brothers,

Our sister; we hurt them with a

Smirk, a condescending remark

Or tone, an evil tongue twister,

Twisting a truth into a lie,

Twisting a pure thought into an

Impure deed –

Twisting a heart.


And we end up outside the camp,

Alone, broken, fragmented into a million

Little pieces, separated from our people

From our selves, separated even from those

Who are separated – we are so broken even

The broken can’t stand us.


The Kohen shall go

Outside of the camp…


But then the purist, the priest,

Who sees not the impurities we’ve

Caused and effected, but the purity

That can never be affected because it

Was not effected; no –

We aren’t an effect –

We are the cause.


But sometimes we forget that we are the cause

That has to affect things in a pure way and it takes

A purist, a priest to see, and help us see, the purity:

For what is a purist if not someone who sees

The purity in everything.


And what is a purist if not a pure someone who

Helps others become purists.


What is a purist if not someone willing to find the

Purity even in the broken?


What is a purist if not someone sensitive –

Sensitive to another’s pain

Another’s purity?

Mendel Jacobson is a writer, poet and journalist living in Brooklyn. His weekly poetry can be seen at

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.