Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Shaleeakh Tazria "Conceived"
The greatest spiritual duty given to parents is the training up of children. In fact, the training of children is part of the Shema as Devarim 6:7 states "you shall teach them diligently unto thy children, and shall talk of them when thou sit in thine house, and when thou walk by the way, and when thou lie-down, and when thou rise up."Training a child to follow the Torah and serve HaShem is critical for the continued existence of HaShem's people. Training children is the best way to remind future generations of the miraculous deeds, and the blessing of salvation that HaShem has given to His people. Teaching children, the Torah reaffirms that HaShem has blessed our forefathers in the past, and will bless our descendants in the future. Teaching children about the past also assures that the Torah is perpetuated from one generation to the next. Perpetuation of the Torah this way can be seen in Tazria. In Tazria HaShem uses childbirth to remind Yisrael, that despite the transgressions of the past, He is still honoring His promise to redeem them in the future.
Vayikra 12:6 states "when the days of her purifying are fulfilled, for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a sin offering, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest" Purification after the birth of a child may seem like an unnecessary burden. This is understandable considering that the birth of a child is a blessing from HaShem. HaShem even commanded his people to be fruitful. B'reisheet 1:22 states "God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth." From the beginning, HaShem wanted Adam and Hava to bear children.
Eating the fruit of knowledge and becoming aware of sin did not change HaShem's desire for mankind to be fruitful. However, becoming aware of sin did change the way childbirth would be experienced. B'resheet 1:28 in the Complete Jewish Bible states "To the woman he said, "I will greatly increase your pain in childbirth. You will bring forth children in pain."" Eating of the fruit of knowledge caused childbirth to become a reminder of the sin that Adam committed. Therefore, instead of the painless and completely joyful experience HaShem originally intended, childbirth became a time of pain and struggle. Every time that a child is born today we are reminded that the knowledge of sin, brought pain and struggle into the process of childbirth. As a result, a sin offering is required after the birth of a child. This offering is not required because of a specific sin that the newborn, or the newborn's parents committed. This offering is required to remind us that sin exists in the world as a result of the fall of mankind. The sin offering for the birth of a child is the reaffirmation that HaShem is in the process of redeeming His people from the sinful nature of the world. Therefore, childbirth represents both sin and redemption. The pain of childbirth represents the sin of Adam. The sin offering of HaShem represents the restoration He offers to the world. Therefore, in the midst of the pain of childbirth, Yisrael is also reminded of the hope and the redemption HaShem is creating for our children and us.
Vayikra 12:3 states "in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised." The covenant of circumcision is another example of how HaShem reminds His people that He promises to redeem us in the future. The birth of a male child required an interruption during the time of purification. This interruption allowed the mother who was still in the process of purification to enter the tabernacle and present her son for entry into the covenant of Avraham by the right of circumcision. B'resheet 17:12 states "he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed." Every time a male child who is circumcised in Yisrael it is declaring to the world that HaShem made a promise to Avraham, and that He intends to fulfill this promise through Avraham's descendants. Every time circumcision is practiced we are reminded that HaShem is giving us a land to posses where we will be free to worship and serve Him as B'resheet 17:8 states "I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God." Continuing the ritual of circumcision reinforces HaShem's promise to establish us in the land He promised Avraham. Therefore, HaShem's people are reminded that HaShem's promise transcends the past, the present, and the future. Circumcision reaffirms this by letting us know that the covenant HaShem made with Avraham is still in affect.
Understanding of the Torah is passed from one generation to the next through remembrance of the past. It is the duty of parents to pass the teachings of the Torah to the next generation by remembering the past. Each time a parent experiences the blessing of a birth of a child HaShem gives them the opportunity to remember. Therefore, a crucial part of linking the future with the past is the process of childbirth. Childbirth reminded Yisrael of the past transgressions of Adam. This occurred because the pain and struggle of childbirth are a result of the sin of Adam. The sin sacrifices offered after the birth of a child reminded the Children of Yisrael that HaShem is in the process of redeeming His people from the sin of Adam. Circumcision also linked the past with the future, by reminding the Children of Yisrael that HaShem made a covenant with Avraham and his descendants. The covenant HaShem made with Avraham and his descendants guaranteed them a land that would forever be theirs. Childbirth is a time of mixed emotions reminding us of sin and redemption. Therefore, the birth of a child should make us realize it is our duty to pass our faith onto our children by teaching them about the past. As a result, our children will understand the sins of the past and the present and future redemptive process of HaShem.
By Rabbi Yaakov benYosef ABOUT Torah