Hebrew Roots/Torah observance/Tazria

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Tazria - She conceives; Leviticus 12:1 - 13:59 II Kings 4:42 - 5:19; Mark 1:40-45; Mark 5:1-43 Matthew 8:1-4; Matthew 11:2-6;

This week’s Torah portion is devoted to the topic of what makes a person clean or unclean. It details some very interesting commandments that many are ignorant of, both in Christianity and the Messianic movement. This portion deals with two things:

(1) the uncleanness of a woman after giving birth,and

(2) what is to be done with those who have 'leprosy'.

The commandments relating to women after birth primarily deal with ritual uncleanness and the commandments relating to lepers deal with how it is to be determined whether or not someone has leprosy and to how it can be determined if one is healed from leprosy. This Torah portion discusses things that are not commonly talked about in religious circles today. Anything related to bodily functions is not discussed in modern assemblies and since leprosy is not common in the Western world, many seem to think that it is irrelevant. But even if most of us will not have leprosy in our physical bodies, we can still be "spiritual" leper s and need healing from the Master.

When times of natural uncleanness come, we are to avoid touching anything which is holy. Once again we must connect with the spiritual implications of what is being taught. If we can follow the format of what is given here is this portion of scripture, we can come to a much clearer understanding of what Yahweh expects of us.

Purification After Child Birth

The Parsha addresses the subject of a woman who goes from a state of purity to impurity by giving birth. Parenthood is Yahweh' will for man and woman to be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth. Childbirth is a blessed event, and the Rabbis put great emphasis on the preparation for it, understanding that the reason this instruction was given after the instruction regarding what was clean and unclean food is because of the importance of what a mother eats during pregnancy in relation to the health and well-being of her child. The Torah is teaching that the parents' obligation to a child does not begin after he is born, but while he is still in his mother's womb. The pregnant mother must be careful of what she eats, because it can have a positive or negative effect on the child, depending on whether the food is kosher or not.

For Hebrew women, the gestation time was to be spent in prayer and spiritual preparation for herself and the future of the child and the task of motherhood to follow. The time of her 'uncleanness afterward also gave opportunity for seclusion so as to give time for mother and child to bond, apart from the physical necessity for this separation.

One of life's greatest joys in parenthood is to conceive and give birth to a new life and childbirth is a blessed event. However, the discharges associated with childbirth were to be treated as unclean.

Uncleanness does not indicate we are rejected by God. The woman's uncleanness after having a child has no bearing on whether or not she is personally acceptable in God’s sight. Neither is there a difference in the sex of the child. So why would Yahweh tell us that a woman is unclean after having had a child? One of the reasons involved in this time of separation is because Yahweh knows women need time with their children after giving birth. This frees them from religious practices so that proper bonding with the child can occur. Had He not given this instruction for mothers, they would feel obligated to continue their strict observance of rules (under the old system) and worship. Since they are unclean, they are not required to maintain normal observance.

While females need more time to bond with their mothers, they mature much faster than boys. The unclean state for a female child is twice as long as for males but this is not a sign of any inferiority of female to male, but is related to differences in their physical and emotional constitutions. This time does allow for the mother to have the needed time with her child to develop healthy relationships at birth. The mother's time of separation was intended to be a time of renewal through prayer, consecration, and dedication of the newborn's life back to Yahweh.

The need for separation was necessitated by the emission of blood after the birth which is part of the evidence of the curse that resulted from the fall and to also allow time for the body to heal and be restored. Pain and labour were pronounced upon childbirth which should otherwise be a joy of bringing new life to birth. We are told in the new covenant that women will be saved from this aspect if "they continue in faith, love and holiness"

The need to offer a sacrifice no longer applies as Yeshua is our offering for sin, once for all. 1 Timothy 2:15; Hebrews 10:10 Children are born in the sinful fallen state from Adam's sin and need to come to their own acceptance of redemption and the reality of eternal death and accept the redemption of Messiah Yeshua.

If we say that we have no sin, we are misleading ourselves, and the truth is not in us, I John 1:8. The Psalmist's words in Psalms 51:5 applied here says, "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me." The uncleanliness associated with childbearing expresses the truth that the newborn child needs a Saviour.

This period of impurity following the birth of a child is both physical and spiritual. The physical emissions of blood during this period rendered unclean to come into the temple and is consistent with all the other instructions for bodily emissions, and the body needs to become clean before being presented before His Presence again.

On the spiritual side, birth has taken place under the curse that was pronounced upon Eve is still operating and in a state of sin (not the personal sin of those involved) the woman brings forth another being who is also a sinner. (Romans 5:12) For this reason she is required to offer a sin offering. (12:6)

This does not redeem the soul of the child, but is to atone for him being born under Adam's curse so that the blessings of the covenant can come upon him until he is of age to enter into the covenant by his own choice. Yeshua's atonement did away with all sacrifices, so that this offering as well as all the other offerings are included in His once -for-all offering for our sins.

The initial impurity period, and the following pure state, are double for a female birth than for a male birth and this could relate to the fact that the female body is more susceptible to the effects of the curse. (Genesis 3:16)

The Laws of Uncleanness

Our portion discusses, in great detail, the laws of one affected by the skin disease called Tzara’at, translated 'leprosy' This is not leprosy as we know it today termed "Hansen's disease", but related to any skin eruption that was 'unclean'.

The KJV says leprosy, but this is a mistranslation. The rabbis teach (and so does Matthew Henry in his commentary) that these skin disorders "[were] a plague often inflicted immediately by the hand of God" (M.H. Concise Commentary, page. 111).

Hebraic understanding on this, interprets this affliction as something which is spiritual in origin (Arachin 15 a-b), and as such is a Divine warning that the afflicted person has acted sinfully. The leprosy discussed in the Torah is a form of punishment meted out to those guilty of secret sin, lashon hara - evil talk being the most common (Arachin 15b).

The rabbis (and Matthew Henry) understand that the word used here tzarat is uncleanness that comes as a result of sin and therefore link leprosy and evil speaking. They teach that the skin disorder mentioned in this Torah portion is a result of sins of the mouth such as slander, gossip, murder with the mouth, false oaths and pride as well as sexual immorality, robbery, and selfishness. For proof of this the rabbis cite the similarity between the Hebrew word for skin disorder (m'tzora) and the word one who spreads slander (motzeyra). They say that these skin disorders are "Divine retribution for the offender's failure to feel the needs and share the hurt of others. Yahweh rebukes this antisocial behavior by isolating him from society, so that he can experience the pain he has imposed on others and heal himself through repentance" (Artscroll Chumash, page 610).

The remedy was also intended to be a cure - being separated from the community and alone gives one time to meditate and seek Yahweh for the healing of the problem, which needs repentance and restitution to the person or persons wronged. That there are two chapters here which deal with it, show its importance. Miriam was afflicted with leprosy as a judgement for speaking against Moshe in Numbers chapter 12.

This is an act of the loving hand of Yahweh, a judgment-unto-repentance, to bring you, out of sin and back to him.

It would be well for us to pause at this moment and to consider our own behavior with respect to our tongue. As we get closer to the end of the age and the return of Messiah it is likely that Yahweh will begin to require greater spiritual accountability of His people. He wants to instill within people the true fear of Yahweh God and a repentant and contrite heart, and to turn people away from lukewarmness. May the Holy Spirit help us that we not sin with our tongue, that we hold ourselves accountable and responsible and that we walk in the fear of God at all times.

Next time you have an ailment, a trial, a setback, some problem in life, before ascribing its occurrence simply to time and chance reflect for a moment and consider: perhaps, you are reaping the consequences for something that you have sown? Is there a sin in your life which you have not confessed and for which you have not repented? Is He trying to get your attention? In the case of sickness it could be as simple as your not eating the right foods, not getting enough exercise or enough rest. Or it could be gossip, slander, bitterness, unforgiving or anger, violating some of Yahweh's Torah commands which you know you should be keeping.

The Leper

“As for the leper who has the infection, his clothes shall be torn,and the hair of his head shall be uncovered, and he shall cover his moustache and cry, “Unclean! Unclean!’ He shall remain unclean all the days during which he has the infection; he is unclean. He shall live alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp. “ Vayikra/Leviticus13:45-46

What a tragic predicament, to be considered unclean, defiled and required to dwell alone. Lepers had no choice in the matter. Their very presence invoked fear from those who saw them. The one who was discovered to be a leper was to have his clothes and hair removed, as they might contain infection and he was to declare himself unclean. Then he was to go and live outside the camp. Leprosy in ancient times was not something you wanted to get. Few people recovered from it and according to the Torah, Yahweh specified certain commandments to get lepers out of the assembly.

Sin is like leprosy and makes a person unclean, with the major exception of the sinner having a choice. The true believers today must choose to separate from all forms of uncleanness from Yahweh’s perspective of what is unclean. Yahweh has always had trouble getting His people to separate themselves from ungodliness. We make the choice to leave the righteous paths of Yahweh and even the most righteous can go so far astray that Yahweh considers them as unclean.

“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” Isaiah 64:6

Consider the path you are taking. Yahweh’s heartfelt desire is for His people to return to fellowship with Him. Sin separates us from Him and considering that all that falls short of His standard is sinful in His sight, we need a different perspective toward our lifestyle and what is acceptable in His sight to that which the world calls righteous or acceptable behaviour.

“For ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23 The glory of God is Yahweh’s righteous standard of holiness which was originally imparted to man.

If we say that we have not sin, we are misleading ourselves, and the truth is not in us, I John 1:8

The righteous individuals of this generation know their lives depends upon continual Teshuva/repentance (return). We all need to consider that our lives hang in the balance. Are we repentant or not? Only, the repentant person has the hope of being proclaimed clean. Even King David knew the power of continual return. After his sin with Bathsheeba he realized turning to Yahweh was the only way to rectify the situation.

“For You do not desire sacrifice; else I would give it: You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise” Psalm 51:16-17

Yeshua exemplified this. Yeshua also desires us to have a broken and contrite heart as we approach Yahweh. It is time to leave our uncleanness behind together with all justification of what we consider to be right, and turn toward Him with a repentant heart.

Just as leprosy is a terrible disease infecting the body, so does sin infect many other people in His Body. For this reason we are told to pursue peace with people and holiness and to be careful of any root of bitterness that would spring up and cause trouble and thereby defile many. Hebrews 12:14-16 What is interesting today is that many people who are “part” of the Body of Believers have leprosy and they don’t even know it. Because, as a whole we are not astute in the Torah which is God’s instruction manual. We cannot recognize sin when we see it. Thus , we cannot diagnose spiritual lepers from the symptoms that are there to see. Those who walk in sinful ways are being stripped naked before us and are leaving because of their choices of continuance in sin - that is, their continued violation of God’ s commandments.

We need to learn to diagnose sin in our midst. Just as the priests were to know how to diagnose lepers