From leprosy to community. The importance of community is not just a Jewish value, but a universal one.
One lesser-known idea in Parashat Tazria is the significance of the number seven in the purification process for a woman who has given birth. In Leviticus 12:2-5, it is stated that a woman who gives birth to a male child is impure for seven days, and that on the eighth day the child is to be circumcised. After a total of 33 days, the woman is required to bring an offering to the Tabernacle or Temple to complete her purification.
According to some Jewish commentators, the number seven represents the idea of completion or perfection. In this context, the seven days of impurity for the woman who has given birth represent a period of temporary imperfection or incompleteness. The eighth day, when the child is circumcised, represents the beginning of a new period of perfection and completion. The 33 days that follow represent the completion of the purification process and the woman's return to a state of full spiritual purity.
In this interpretation, the number seven serves as a symbolic reminder of the cyclical nature of life, in which imperfection and completion are followed by new beginnings and the opportunity for renewal.
The portion begins with instructions for a woman who has given birth to a male or female child. She is considered impure for a period of time and is required to undergo a purification process before she can resume normal activities.
The portion also deals with the topic of skin diseases, including leprosy (Tsarat). Priests are instructed on how to identify different types of skin conditions and determine whether someone is impure or not. The afflicted person is required to live outside of the community until they are healed and undergo a purification process.
Finally, the portion describes various types of impurities that can affect a person's dwelling or clothing, and the steps required to purify them.
Overall, Parashat Tazria deals with the idea of spiritual and physical purity, and provides instructions for how to maintain cleanliness and avoid impurity in daily life.
Why was circumcision chosen by God as a sign of His covenant with us? What is the connection between sexuality and violence? What does circumcision have to do with the breakdown of societies? This is a fantastic essay on the reasons why it is circumcision that defines Jews more than any other symbol.
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