Thursday, April 7, 2016

Parashat Tazria ("She conceives") Vayikra Leviticus 12:1-13:59



Parashat Tazria ("She conceives")  Vayikra  Leviticus 12:1-13:59

There are many questionable mitzvot in the Torah, some are wildly offensive to our limited understanding, but all have a specific purpose and they all point to the nature of Yeshua and HaShem. 

One of the most interesting passages in the Brit Chadashah is found in Matthew 11:6 , “And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.”    Even Yeshua knew that some of his mitzvot and ways were hard to understand.       But we trust in the nature of HaShem, even though our understanding is greatly dimmed.

Or as we read in Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.”

Now onto today’s parashat.  Please believe me when I say that this is the most awkward parashah I have done to date.

It begins with the laws concerning ritual impurity and purity as it pertains to childbirth. A new mother is treated as is considered "impure"  for 40 days (if a boy) or 80 days (if a girl).  On the 8th day a boy must be circumcised, and once the woman is considered clean, must bring “a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a sin offering”.  Who shall offer it before the Lord, and make an atonement for her; and she shall be cleansed from the issue of her blood” Leviticus 12:6-7.

A sin (chata) offering?  Yes, it’s true.  So is child birth a sin?  No, but we enter the sinful world, into impurity and the sinful selfish nature is passed down through childbirth. 

We know that the soul that sins shall die:

Genesis 2:17, “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”

Ezekiel 18:4 & 20, “Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.”   “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.”

Unfortunately, we are born selfish.  That’s why we read in Deuteronomy 15:7, "Do not shut close your hand... to your brother in want".   We are born with closed fists but we die with our hands open.

This is just evidence that natural life itself is not sufficient for spiritual life.  Thus atonement is required.

As the Torah plainly states: "For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul." Leviticus 17:11.  Blood is therefore connected to the holiness of life through sacrificial death....

So a sin offering was required and a time of separation was required.

Here’s where it gets tricky.   Birth of a male child made her unclean for only 7 days then she had to continue purification for 33 days whilst the birth of a female made her unclean for 14 days and then purification continued for 66 days for  sanctuary purity.

Now before the feminists come out blasting, maybe we should enquire and learn what the purpose is.   This is not about girls being worth less than boys, it is most definitely not about girls being twice as dirty as boys (yes, I did actually read that somewhere), it is most likely about honour. 

Culturally, the birth of a girl was a little bit disappointing and so the male partner would want to “try again” asap.  The 14 day span was, quite possibly, a demonstration that the “life giver” had just given birth to another “life giver” and should be respected for that.  Back off man!  The additional 66 days might possibly to give her a chance to fully recover before appearing at the Temple.  We either see the time of separation as “punishment” or as a “reprieve”.     I know my wife mentioned that she wishes she had a time of separation.

I like to compare this particular mitzvah with bubbles.   Bubbles that are created from boiling water and bubbles that form from a soapy bath look exactly the same to a 2 year old.  It is only from a higher understanding that we see the difference.     And there is a big difference here also.
I tend to err on the side of HaShem’s mercy and grace in all of his mitzvot.

Interestingly, the book of Jubilees chapter 3 places the 40th day and the 80th day as when Adam and then Eve entered the Garden.  Hmmmm.   I can’t back that up.

Shalom vyom nehedar. 

Jon Eaton

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