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Potential for Perfection

Parashat Tazria (Lev.12:1–13:59) teaches us about (1) the brit or circumcision, (2) the instruction to a woman after child bearing, and (3)dealing with a condition called tzaraat. All three are concerned with achieving physical and spiritual wholeness. Recall, in Genesis 17:1, wherein G-d tells Avraham he can begin the process of physical and spiritual perfection—of being completely whole—with circumcision.

HaShem promises Avraham, “Walk in My ways and be blameless." Rashi teaches this is done by observing the precept of circumcision which is necessary for perfection.

With the brit, a Jewish male child enters completely into the covenant, beginning a life full of potential for perfection.

When a woman gives birth to a boy, it takes 7 days to be restored to physical and spiritual wholeness because the mother suffered a loss of a living being with potential for holiness. But if the child is a girl, then 14 days are required.

Why is number of days doubled?

It's because the loss is greater since women are imbued with an elevated spiritual level. After delivering her newborn, she goes through a process of becoming tahor (whole). It’s helpful here to recall the Torah’s description of pure gold as zahav tahor: refined gold that is pure, free of all dross—in the same way, the mother is restored to a state of physical, mental and spiritual refinement. She is whole again.

Finally, the treatment for tzaraat is taught in this portion. The malady strikes not only the skin but clothing and even the walls of a house. The condition is caused by a loss of holiness in speech, as well as conduct. Speech tainted by gossip is physically manifested in a this malady that affects the body, clothing and even the home. The people of Israel are instructed to consult the kohanim for their healing. And herein is a lesson for the world: to look to our priesthood, the people of Israel. They will eventually embrace their mission to reveal the presence of our Creator. They will do so by teaching us with pure words and deeds refined by Torah. As promised in Zephania 3:9, “God will convert the peoples to a pure language that all of them call in the name of the Lord, to worship Him of one accord.”

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