PARASHAH: Tazria 
(She conceives)
Torah Teacher Ariel ben-Lyman HaNaviy
Shabbat, April 28, 2001

Vayikra (Leviticus) 12:1-13:59
(Note: all quotations are taken from the Complete Jewish Bible, translation by David H. Stern, Jewish New Testament Publications, Inc., unless otherwise noted)

Let’s begin with the opening blessing for the Torah:

"Baruch atah YHVH, Eloheynu, Melech ha-‘Olam,

asher bachar banu m’kol ha-amin,

v’natan lanu eht Torah-to.

Baruch atah YHVH, noteyn ha-Torah.

Ameyn."

(Blessed are you, O’ LORD, our God, King of the Universe,

you have selected us from among all the peoples,

and has given us your Torah.

Blessed are you, LORD, giver of the Torah.

Ameyn.)

       This is Parashat Tazria. Our commentary this week will be short and to the point. The opening instructions are given to the women of the camp. In fact, the whole of Vayikra (Leviticus) chapter 12 is the entire mitzvah (command) of niddah (ritual uncleanness from blood). Some of the particular reasons as to why a boy child will render her tamei (ritually unclean) for only seven days, as opposed to a girl child rendering her tamei for two weeks is speculative. Even the rabbis don’t have much to comment on in this specific area. Rather, this is a demonstration of one of those areas where HaShem knows infinitely better why we should heed these instructions to the letter. This is also one of those instances when man would be better off taking the Torah at face value (for an interpretation) rather than go round and round with seemingly endless speculations.

      Chapter 12 provides the background to a well-know incident recorded for us in the B’rit Chadashah (Renewed Covenant). In Luke’s gospel account, we find Yeshua’s Torah-observant parents making fulfillment of this very mitzvah.

"When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, "Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord"), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: "a pair of doves or two young pigeons." (Luke 2:22-24, NIV)

        Did Yosef or Miryam question the validity of applicability of these instructions? If they did, we certainly don’t hear about it in the Torah. I’m sure that curiosity and speculation were part of their human experience as well. Yet, we could learn a great deal from those who do not feel the need to know why everything is just so.

       Chapters 13 and fourteen discuss the topic of what is commonly called leprosy. The exact Hebrew word "tzara’at" is used over twenty times in these two passages alone. The word is used to describe an infectious skin disease. In most cases, the skin disease renders the inflicted person "tamei", that is ritually impure. The instructions given to the priests is to examine the individual, and if found unclean, they were to leave the commonwealth of the camp (vs. 45, 46).

      An interesting side note to this pronouncement is that anyone coming in contact with the "unclean" was himself rendered "unclean". Similarly, this type of disease, if chronic, was seldom if ever completely healed. There are isolated individuals, such as Na’aman in our haftarah portion, that were completely and miraculously healed. Yet, one of the signs (among many signs) that was said to follow the genuine promised messiah, was the healing of tzara’at (read Matthew 11:2-6; 12:22-23; John 9:1-41). Why wouldn’t the uncleanness of the afflicted render the messiah unclean?

       The proof that the coming messiah was a genuine and not a phony was demonstrated not only that he would heal the afflicted individual, but that he himself would not become defiled! In Yeshua’s example given in Mattityahu 8:1-4, our LORD instructed the former leper to go to the priest as a "testimony unto them" (KJV). This was done for at least two reasons: (1) in obedience to the very mitzvah found in our current parashah, vindicating Yeshua’s adherence to the Torah of Moshe, and (2) to authenticate the miracle—thus proving his claims to messiahship! In every single instance where he healed the inflicted, or raised the dead, his holiness did not decrease! His state of clean never diminished! On the contrary—disease and death always fled from his presence! Surely he was The Messiah for those days! Surely he is The Messiah for us today!

      Thus we learn in at least these two instances (the one involving Yeshua’s parents, and the instance with the leper) that HaShem’s masterful instructions, as outlined in the Torah, demonstrate their usefulness on a grander scale than just for those participants of the pre-Common Era community. His specific instructions—every minute detail would serve as historical and prophetic fulfillment of the life and ministry of the greatest Cohen Gadol (High Priest) that the Nation of Isra’el would ever know!

       Thanks be unto our Heavenly Abba that as spiritually afflicted individuals, we no longer have to remain outside of the camp, sometimes—in the case of the individuals of the TaNaKH—indefinitely!

When our uncleaness encounters the holiness of the Prophet from Natzeret—our disease must flee! We have no need to go about crying, "Tamei! Tamei!" (Unclean! Unclean!). Rather, we have the freedom to proclaim, "Tahor! Tahor!" (Cleansed! Cleansed!)

The closing blessing is as follows:

"Baruch atah YHVH, Eloheynu, Melech ha-‘Olam,

asher natan lanu Toraht-emet,

v’chay-yeh ‘olam nata-b’tochenu.

Baruch atah YHVH, noteyn ha-Torah.

Ameyn."

(Blessed are you O’ LORD, our God, King of the Universe,

you have given us your Torah of truth,

and has planted everlasting life within our midst.

Blessed are you, LORD, giver of the Torah.

Ameyn.)

"Shabbat shalom!"