Torah Portion: Tazria (She Conceives) (Leviticus) Vayikra 12-13
Haftorah Reading: II Kings 4:42-5:19
Last week we read in Leviticus 10:10 where we are to be able to put a difference between holy and unholy and between clean and unclean. This week we see this idea of clean and unclean carried on from almost the first verse of chapter 12. We see where a woman who gives birth is considered unclean for a period of time. To rectify her state of uncleanness she is to bring a sin offering to the Mishkan. We see this process played out in Luke 2:24 where the mother of Yeshua brought an offering to the Temple in Jerusalem. She brought a sin offering even though there was no evidence of sin mentioned. Naturally the question arises why? I would think it harkens back to the first birth in scripture when Eve, as a result of her sin and Adam’s sin, was told the birth process would be painful and bloody as a reminder of their sin. It also helps us to understand the verse in Psalms 51:5. There David says he was, “brought forth in iniquity and in sin did his mother conceive me.” We all live in a world that is under this same dilemma. As such our lives are lived with this world’s sinfulness around us. Thankfully Yeshua and His blood has given us refuge from the sin of the world but it takes action on our part to accept that gift of redemption and then walk in G-d’s leading in our life. G-d expects us to be part of the fixing of this world as His people. This is a choice we all are faced with, the choice of holy or profane, clean or unclean. Even in our spiritual lives there are times when we as G-d’s people are faced with this choice. We must be able to choose wisely.
Another example of unclean set out in our section is what is translated as leprosy. Here we see a very involved process that the person has to go through to be declared clean if he/she has been ruled by the priest to have this affliction. Also, this affliction was even deemed more or of a higher level of uncleanness than even touching a dead body. This person had to completely separate themselves from the community and cry unclean as they met people while going through their day. Judaism links this state of uncleanness or leprosy to the sin of gossip. Why? Miriam was struck by this disease after talking about Moshe. Why would gossip be looked at so severely? Gossip affects at least 3 people – the one talked about, the one spreading the gossip and the one who listened to the gossip. By the way, gossip can be a true statement about someone. It is not necessarily a false statement. How do we normally look at gossip? “It is not really that bad. It doesn’t really hurt anyone.”
This week I have had a revelation in my life about words. They should be few and measured. The power of speech is what sets us apart in G-d creation. We have the power to articulate a nebulas world into meaningful words and phrases. G-d spoke and the world came into being. Our words are powerful. In fact, our words determine our reality. According to how we focus, so our world will be. With just a small breath of air we determine whether it is beauty that sprouts from the earth or monsters living under our bed.
There are times when negative words may be called for to make clear something is wrong and needs to be corrected but even they should be measured and spoken gently. Words should be like gentle rain, upon a dormant field. Eventually they will coax the seeds beneath the soil to life. (Chabad) This is the issue with gossip. It kills, hurts, and destroys. May we never be involved in gossiping. I pray we can distinguish between holy words and profane words, between clean words and unclean words.
Just a final word about circumcision, in this portion we read about the circumcision of a son on the eighth day of life. In D’Varim 10:16 we are told to circumcise our hearts. What does that mean? I suggest it means to begin to see the world differently. To change from seeing the world as revolving around us and our needs. This prospective leads us to only look inward, even how we see G-d. He can be seen only as a resource that provides for my needs. Removing the foreskin that covers our hearts enables us to look outside of ourselves to serve a cause greater than ourselves. We can be instruments to bring G-d into this world.