Posted on March 23, 2011
by Kenny Gold
This week’s portion, Tazria/Metzorah is a double Parashah that begins with the laws and the effects of childbirth. Even though the miracle of life is wonderful and we are fulfilling God’s request of being fruitful and multiplying, the Torah suggests that childbirth makes the mother impure. When a woman conceives and gives birth to a male, she shall be contaminated for a seven-day period. The quote continues by saying that on the fifth day the child shall be circumcised. For thirty-three days following she must stay away from the sanctuary and must not touch anything pure, for she is impure.If she gives birth to a female, she shall stay away for 6 days and must be away from holy objects and the sanctuary for sixty-six days. Since we don’t sacrifice anymore and we do not alienate new mothers post-childbirth, it is a ritual that new mothers listen to the kedushah or any part of the kedushah as their way of purifying themselves.
Tzaraat is the Hebrew word for the biblically chosen skin disease, leprosy. Such famous Jewish figures as Moses and Miriam were said to have contracted this disease, which was normally a clear cut sign that God was annoyed about something or that they did something wrong. So the double portion discusses the Metzorah, the sick person, and the Tazria the person who has leprosy. These two portions are a guide for how to be pure and not suffer from these diseases and how to take care of the disease or problem when it occurs.
Even though in modern times we have medicine for leprosy, these medicines only cure the physical symptons of tzaraat. The Torah provides the guidelines on how to cure oneself spiritually. It also teaches people that new mothers too, after this life-changing event, must reenter the spiritual community with her newborn child. Thanks Torah!