Friday, April 4, 2008

Tazria: Is Childbirth a Sin?

Read Leviticus 12:1-13:59
Every week, there is a portion (parasha in Hebrew) of the Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) read by Jews, and more recently, believers all across the globe. It is amazing to read a portion of Scripture along with millions of others, and see what they got out of it. Each of the 53 portions (sometimes we read 2 portions) is named in Hebrew by one of the first words appearing in that portion. This week's parasha (Leviticus 12:1-13:59) is called Tazria, which in English means "childbirth" or "she conceives."
Tazria is one of the most misunderstood parashot (plural for parasha), as it deals with the days of uncleanness ("tuma") for a woman after she gives birth. At first glance it could seem as if God thinks that having children is a "sin." (This is actually the opposite of what God thinks of childbirth - Genesis 1:28). As I stated in the parasha post last week, uncleanness or cleanness do not necessarily have to do with sin. Pigs are not unclean because they are bad. They are unclean because the Creator said they are. Being in a state of cleanness or uncleanness has much more to do with the spiritual reality than the physical. If you read this portion and are wondering why there is a difference in the number of days for purification are doubled if the woman has a baby girl, I have read two theories on this. The first is that since a boy baby would have to be circumcised on the eighth day, the wife would want to be clean and be able to be at the circumcision. The second explanation is very interesting, although I'm not sure about it. I've read that the reason is that females are naturally more spiritual people than males. Men have to do the physical work of providing for their families, but also strive to connect with God. Women, on the whole, are by nature more prone to look at the spiritual side of things, and strive to nurture that spirit (as in raising children, etc.). Therefore, the rabbis say, when a baby girl is born, she has great potential to live up to (as well as boy babies). Therefore the mother must take double the amount of time preparing to raise her. As I said, I'm not sure if I believe all of that explanation, but it is interesting to note. I do know that there are differences in the male and female emotional makeup, but sometimes it seems as if the rabbis are saying that women have greater potential for spirituality than men do, and I don't believe that part to be true. Ok, on with the rest of the parasha!
I read a great commentary on this portion by First Fruits of Zion. If you have not yet signed up to receive Messiah magazine, do so now!
Thanks to Pictopia for the picture!

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