Tazria (She Conceives) (Leviticus) Vayikra 12-13 Haftorah Reading: II Kings 4:42-5:19

This week we continue on with the laws of clean and unclean which began in chapter 11 with clean and unclean animals. I want us to begin our time with what it means to be clean or unclean. 

The word for clean in Hebrew, tahor, can also be found in Psalms 51:10 where David prays to G-d to, “create in me a pure/clean heart.” So clean denotes something pure and unblemished. 

Tamei, in Hebrew would be the opposite of clean. If you will notice this is the same word used for the sacrifices. They had to be tahor, no blemish or spot could be found. In Torah this term is used to denote if a person would be able to take part in the Sanctuary worship or to come in contact with any holy object. It had nothing to do with sin but rather was a physical issue.

There are verses that give us some insight into how the early believers saw this condition, in both a symbolic way and also physically. One example is:

II Cor. 6:17 – 7:1, “Therefore, come out from them and be separate, says the L-rd. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. And I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the L-rd Almighty. Therefore, since we have these promises dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for G-d.”

Here we see the early believers using this idea of clean and unclean to teach us of holiness before G-d. We are to come out of the world and live as a holy people. This fact is easily represented by the passing through the water that we experience when coming to faith.

It speaks to the world that we are now a new creation pure and holy before G-d. We can enter His presence as a pure person. When we do things that might separate us from the Father we can fix that by coming to Him through the atoning power of Messiah and be again in the presence of G-d. This should give us a clearer picture of what we call baptism. As an unclean person in Torah went through the water so do we, for us it is a symbol of our new status.

1.Where in the Messianic Scripture do we see a woman bringing a sin offering after giving birth?  

In Leviticus 12:1-8  we read the instructions for a woman after giving birth. Then in  Luke 2:21-31 we read about this exact situation. Mary and Joseph came to Jerusalem to offer the sacrifice mentioned here to end her time of purification. What did they bring? They brought two turtle doves, two pigeons. 

21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Yeshua, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.

22 When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the L-rd 23 (as it is written in the Law of the L-rd, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the L-rd”[b]), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the L-rd: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”[c]

25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the L-rd’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Yeshua to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised G-d, saying:

29 “Sovereign L-rd, as you have promised,  you may now dismiss[d] your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,  which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”

This is a beautiful passage where Luke makes it totally clear that baby Yeshua was circumcised on the eight day as the Torah demands and the name Yeshua was given to him after the circumcision. This same custom is still the way things are done in every Jewish Community in the world. The name of the boy is given during the circumcision ceremony, and not before.

The second thing that Luke tells us is that Miriam, Yeshua’s mother, went to the temple in Jerusalem, “when the days of her purification according to the Law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the L-rd (as it is written in the Law of the L-rd), and to offer sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the L-rd.”

All was done as it is written in the Law of the L-rd. This means that Miriam waited 33 days in her impurity before the baby Yeshua could be taken to the temple to be presented before the L-rd.

What does all this mean? First of all it means that Yeshua was a Jewish baby that His family was raising Him strictly as it was commanded in the Law of the Lo-rd, the Torah. It is clear from this text in Luke that Miriam and Joseph were raising this baby according to the Torah.

2.What can we know about their situation by looking at the sacrifices they brought? 

Bringing turtle doves indicated they were poor. So when we read these verses in Leviticus we see them being played out thousands of years later in the life of Yeshua.

3.Why did a woman have to bring a sin offering after childbirth?  Had she committed a sin in giving birth? Was the woman inherently evil or lacking in some way? After all she had just fulfilled the first command in the Torah, to “be fruitful and multiply” (Gen. 1:28)

These commandments concerning childbirth can show us the giving of life. The mother has in some way, taken on a characteristic of G-d in that she has been an instrument in creating life, a new life with unbounded potential in this world. 

This is also a life that will, in time, sin and have need of repentance but one that can change the world. The blood spilled during childbirth and the monthly cycle are the reasons for the woman being unclean and this condition had to be dealt with before she could reenter the Mishkan or Temple. 

In the monthly cycle there was a potential for birth, for a new creation that was not realized and therefore was somewhat like a death for which the woman was declared unclean and like sitting sheva when a death occurs in a family she was separated from entering the Mishkan or Temple. In both of these cases G-d is teaching us about the sanctity of life and its spiritual potential.

Also I 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 have 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.

4.In the case of a female baby the time of purification doubles. Why? 

Because this female child will or at least has the possibility of also having children, of bringing more life into the world.

5.The other topic in this Torah section is leprosy. Of course it is not the leprosy we are familiar with today. Judaism connects it to lashon harah or gossip.   Why is that? Is there some scriptural basis for this opinion? 

In this Torah portion we have the laws relating to tsara’at, often translated as leprosy, but which refers to something larger than a human disease, because it affects not only people but also clothes and houses. It was the job of the Kohen to examine the symptoms, and to declare the person clean or unclean, Judaism links this state of uncleanness or leprosy to the sin of gossip. Gossip is lashon harah or evil tongue. 

What would be the connection to leprosy? 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.”

Our words should be measured. The power of speech is what sets us apart in G-d creation. 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. 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.

6.What is the first case of lashon harah in scripture? 

Genesis 3:1-4  It was the snake talking to Eve. It brought death into the human experience and caused a level of spiritual harm in that man was separated from G-d’s presence, which he had experienced completely before. 

7.In the Messianic Scripture a leper asked Yeshua to make him clean. Yeshua touched the Leper and said, “Be cleansed.”  Is it important that Yeshua did not say, “Be healed?” Why was this an important part of the story?  This story is found in Mark 1:40-45, Matthew 8:1-4 and Luke 5:12-16.

Yeshua was living out Torah. Yeshua knew the importance of this man being pronounced clean by the priest so he could again go into the temple.  In each passage Yeshua tells the leper to go present himself to the priest.