Few things were harder than watching the wasting away of a human life as the bodies of the disease’s victims literally disintegrated. Medications and supplies were in short supply for a long time. Gradually, as the sufferers died and the disease was contained, the leper communities were scaled back and eventually closed.
Once upon a time, Mrs. Eagle, Mrs. Vulture, and Mrs. Crow met around a grizzly bear’s carcass. The bear had simply died of old age. Mrs. Eagle ate her fill and set aside some large portions at her feet to take back to her nest for her young. Then Mrs. Vulture did the same, and finally Mrs. Crow had her turn. At last, all were satisfied.
He turned his head, sensing he was being watched. He had not scented me, for the breeze was from him to me, and I had been stalk-still, entranced, transfixed! He saw me and his yellow eyes locked onto mine. Neither moved, but there was an electric moment of contact and acknowledgement.
Suddenly, Shim’on understood. He had been waiting for this for his whole life! His confusion was that he knew he was totally unfit for this call. His sense of uncleanness, unworthiness, and inadequacy overpowered his yearning. He hardly realized that he had dropped to his knees as he said, “Leave me, Master, for I am a sinful, unworthy man.”
If he was an up and coming new rabbi, one even recognized by the Immerser as someone special, why would he come back here to the backside of Israel? Why didn’t he go to the city and set up in the Temple Porticos like the other rabbis seeking to gather disciples and make a name for themselves? He would never get anywhere by spending his time up in the Galil among its uncultured peasants and yokels.
What in the name of the Blessed One did “baptizing with fire” mean? He could understand undergoing a ceremonial mikvah to symbolize a desire to live a pure life for Adonai. He hadn’t done mikvah yet, but he sometimes felt a tug in that direction. He was well aware of his faults and that, as an example of Adonai’s chosen people, he fell far short. About this baptism by fire he had no clue. It sounded downright unpleasant! But prophets were always rather cryptic.