This week’s Torah portion continues with commandments of what is impure, and, if it can be made pure, how to do so. These impurities are people with skin disease, which we now call leprosy; and the mould in a building. It ends with a woman’s menstrual cycle — the impurity of blood.
At first glance, these pure/impure moments seem very clear: you are or you are not pure or impure. However, I believe this balance is not nearly as precise as we’d like to think. What happens when a person develops a little rash that seems like nothing — just a raise bump, like a mosquito bite, on the skin. Or what if a woman bleeds very very lightly the first day of her cycle, barely noticeable. I think of these two states of being as Order and Chaos — Pure and Impure — Sacred and Mundane.
The reading caused me to think of my own situation: I turned 70 in February, which was really fine with me — though very very shocking — who ever imagines themselves at that age?! But I kept myself centers; kept doing my daily routines. The a week later my daughter told me she’s pregnant with triplets! She already has a 2 yr old and a 4 yr old. They live on the 2nd floor of a condo with no downstairs space for carriages. How will they handle all the kids? Okay. I could feel my breathing become more shallow, more stressed. Then she told me the triplets would probably be in intensive care for a while — like a month or two! And in that case, they’d move in with us since we’re much closer to the hospital. Well, I developed a little mosquito bite — or so I thought. I scratched it. And scratched it some more, until finally it blossomed into a rash the size of my palm. Went to the doc — doc doesn’t know what it is and has not been able to heal it. Neither have I!
Without recognizing what was happening, I slowly slid from my calm, ordered, containable, manageable world into chaos. I hadn’t even realized what was happening until I landed, THUD. In the last few days I’ve been trying to climb back into my life — my old life, which I understood and knew how to handle! Except, in writing this, in thinking about this weeks parasha, I can see that I need to realize that that old world no longer exists; that when we move through stages of purity and impurity; order and chaos and back to order, we are never in the same place again. We have to reorder, reclaim our lives in new and different ways. And that is the challenge: to reimagine a life; to use the time of impurity and isolation as a time of rethinking what it is you want in your life.
As for me, I’ve begun meditating. I hope that this time of quiet and calm will permeate the hectic life I see before me.
כן יהי רצון May this be God’s will.