This week’s Torah portion is a double hitter based on the triennial year cycle in which we combine these two portions. This week we will be exploring a lengthy two sections of the Parashot this week found in Tazria תזריע: Leviticus 12-13, and in Metzora מזרע : Leviticus 14-15.
ִn the first parasha we explore in sequence is Tazria. The word Tazria תזריע means “She bears seed”. “The creation of a new human being is one of the most sublime phenomenon in the universe. ” (Chumash Stone edition). Because of that, when a woman gives birth she is giving of herself to the universe.
With that phenomena comes a great deal of proper management of life and impurities surrounding new life. In Tazria we learn that we must contain impurities.
With that being said G-d mandates a certain purification and restoration of the child bearer. For the male child, there shall be seven days of contamination. For the female child there shall be two weeks. Some rabbinic resources claim there is not difference in the child’s gender with regard to human equality, however that the superior spiritual being the female child requires more purification time. The focus for that ruling is based on the life giving qualities of the woman. Likewise the mother/child bearer doubles the amount of time spent in the purification process 33 days vs 66. It is said that purification process makes her whole again.
Now in verse 12:6 we learn that there is not a distinction between genders of the child when it comes to the offering to Kohen כוהענ (Priest). However the significance of the offering is that the time of her purification has ended. God has restored her back to fullness in the flesh.
Now looking into chapter 13 we see a prescription to Moshe & Aharon by G-d that identifies how to address a disease in the skin commonly identified as Leprosy called in the Hebrew Tzaraas תזאראס. There are varying debates regarding t he name, most rabbinis resources do not call it leprosy because there is not equivalent word association to the original Hebrew.
As you read the text in chapter 13 you will notice that there are varying stages of skin disorders. It was commanded that the priest determine the diagnoses of the person’s condition. Then you will also find that the disease if in fact it is a disease (aka Leprosy. can also be resident in the walls, linens, and clothing of the carrier. The different types of garments or materials that could be contaminated are: wool or linen garments, warp and woof, leather, and anything fashion with leather.
When a priest declared the skin disorder a disease the person was also declared contaminated. That meant that he/she was to dress up in full clothing up to the lips and when in public or around others he would have to declare himself contaminated by speaking the words precisely in the Torah ” CONTAMINATED, CONTAMINATED!”.
Moving on to the portion of Metzora מזרע which means “infected one”. It is found in Leviticus 14, the day of the infected one’s cleansing ceremony. Giving a detailed account of what they and the priest inspecting them will do have to do before being ceremonial clean. One thing that stands out to do is to be outside of the camp. Afterall, to protect the temple from disease or infection is as sacred as the human body itself.
Rites of purification, cleansing the poor, and cleansing houses are all among t he prescribed instructions/Torah as well as how to deal with both male and female unusual fluid discharge from the body.
All these purification methods are prescribed for the purpose of allowing the infected one to re-enter into the praise and worship of the assembly.