This week’s Parasha is entitled Tazria, meaning “she conceives”. It is taken from the book of Leviticus 12:1- 13:59.
Why would Adonai instruct Moses to tell women that during their menstruation, or after conceiving a child, that they are unclean and not allowed to enter the Sanctuary, and that whatever they touch is unclean?
Or that anyone who touches her or anything that she has touched will be unclean until evening and must stay outside of the camp? And why is she considered unclean 40 days after the birth of a son, but 80 days after the birth of a daughter?
In order to fully understand the importance of what the LORD is saying to Israel in this Parasha is to understand the book from which he is speaking.
In the pages of Leviticus, Adonai teaches Israel about holiness. The word holy appears no less than 144 times in this book alone – it appears here more than in any other book in Scriptures.
In Leviticus we hear Adonai saying, “I am the Lord your God; you shall be holy for I am Holy.” The prophet Isaiah tells us that the angels are forever worshiping God, declaring him, Holy, Holy, Holy.
Holiness can be defined as purity, different or set apart for special purposes. 1 Peter 2:9: Says you are his chosen people, the King’s priests. You are a holy nation, people who belong to God.
He chose you to tell about the wonderful things he has done. He brought us out of the darkness of sin into his wonderful light.
Please understand, sexuality is not “dirty” for a man and woman in the covenant of marriage, nor is pregnancy defiling, nor should we think that babies are impure.
God created humans “male and female” and declared His creation to be “very good” which includes sexual intimacy. He commanded our first parents to “be fruitful, and multiply.”
In giving birth, the mother experiences bleeding as well as secretion of other bodily fluids, and this made her ceremonially unclean.
The theme of this chapter isn’t personal holiness, but ritual purification for the mother, without which she could not return to normal life in her home or in the camp.
Forty days after the birth of a son, or eighty days after the birth of a daughter, the mother and father were required to go to the sanctuary and offer sacrifices for the mother’s cleansing:
A year-old lamb for a burnt offering and a dove, or pigeon, for a sin offering. A burnt offering symbolized her dedication to God as she returned to her normal life, and the sin offering took care of the ritual uncleanness involved in the birth process.
It also reminded them that every child, no matter how beautiful or delightful he or she might be, is born in sin and must one day trust the Lord for salvation. These instructions show God’s loving concern for the health and welfare of his people.
Those forty days after the birth of a son, or eighty days after the birth of a daughter provided opportunity for rest and recuperation, as well as time for bonding between mother and child. This ‘enforced isolation’ would also protect them both from possible sickness carried by visitors, or the spread of any infection she might have.
Consider the tremendous benefits in the lives of the children whose mothers were obedient to God’s instructions. Hannah dedicated Samuel, Elizabeth dedicated John, Mary dedicated Yeshua, and Rabbi Paul’s mother no doubt also followed these instructions. There are many more we could name: David, Daniel, Jeremiah – and the list could go on and on.
Chapter 13 contains requirements about lepers. The tragic disease of leprosy is a chronic, infectious disease, characterized by sores, scabs, raw open and running flesh with shining white spots beneath the skin. It renders its victims ceremonially unclean. Contact with a leper defiled whoever touched them.
The leper affected everyone and everything he touched. If he drank out of a cup, the cup was defiled. All that he did was full of the same offensiveness as himself. The Lord required lepers to remain outside the camp.
They were, for all intents and purposes, dead to all the enjoyments of life and heaven. So, it is with the sinner in regard to the people and things of God. The one living in sin has none of the spiritual joys which God affords to His people.
Every other disease, when cured, is referred to in Scripture as a ‘healing,’ but the cure of leprosy is referred to as ‘cleansing’. Whenever a leper was cleansed under Jewish Law, the leper did nothing — the priest did it all.
Note that it was the priest and not a physician, it was considered as much a spiritual as a physical malady. What is fascinating is that if the priest found any uninfected area on the leper, the leper was pronounced unclean. But if the leprosy totally covered him, he was to be declared clean.
The leper was a raw source of contamination, defilement and an offense to people, just as sinful man is offensive to a holy God.
It is only outside the blessings of God that we begin to understand this. If we humble ourselves and go to Him with no pretense of having any merit of our own, we receive the grace of Adonai and through Yeshua our sacrificial lamb we are declared ‘clean’. But prayerfully consider what cost this was to Yeshua, Himself.
One of the names the rabbis had for the Yeshua was ‘The Leprous One’? It is because of the prophecy of Isaiah 53. Yeshua is not only our great High Priest, but was in a very real sense the leper of lepers.
He was mocked, tortured, spat upon, whipped, beaten and pierced, to the point that much of his body became raw, open flesh. He was a wretched sight. He was despised and rejected; and all for our sake. He became sin -He became unholy- he became everything the Father hated. He was, in that moment, the ultimate leper, when He cried aloud,
“MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?”
He was not merely quoting Psalm 22, nor was he just experiencing the utmost pain and humiliation, but for the first time in his eternal existence, he was separated from God His Father.
He took upon Himself the judgment we deserved. Just as the priest went outside the camp and found the leper, so Yeshua left Heaven and came to seek and to save those of us who were lost.
Just as the high priest was the only one who could declare a leper cleansed, so Messiah Yeshua is the only One who can wash and cleanse us with His precious blood.
And just as the leper could do nothing to make himself clean, we can do nothing to make ourselves clean before God.
It is Yeshua, our great High Priest, who alone can cleanse us and brings us into a right relationship with our Father, God and King.