Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Parshat Tazria, 1st Portion, Leviticus 12:1-13:5, April 3, 2016

Speak to the children of Israel, saying: If a woman conceives and gives birth to a male, she shall be unclean for seven days; as [in] the days of her menstrual flow, she shall be unclean.

5And if she gives birth to a female, she shall be unclean for two weeks, like her menstruation [period]. And for sixty six days, she shall remain in the blood of purity.

For many, this is a push my button passage, where we see that a woman is seen as unclean longer when she gives birth to a girl than a boy.

Thoughts rage through our heads. Is it better to have a boy than a girl? Are boys better than girls? Is it a sin to have children (who make a woman unclean).

Are these verses written from compassion or indifference? I can hear many, myself included, thinking, “you have got to be kidding!”

Tumah is the Hebrew word for impurity. It means that a person with who has contracted tumah is tamei, and are not suitable to certain holy activities. But why the difference between giving birth to one sex rather than another?

Supposedly it takes a week for the mother to recover in both cases, but their responsibility is greater with a girl because they have to model being a woman. It is the men who model being a man (obviously). So, out of compassion, she is given another week.

I think this is a good example of how, when we hear the entire story, we change our mind. 

In a larger sense, giving equally to two people is not so easy. Some people consider $20,000 a great deal of money, and others consider it louse change. What makes the difference? The relative value of the amount to each person. 

We tend to judge before we know all the facts. And then we hear the whole story and we change our mind. Is there a bigger teaching lesson here... that it is not always the obvious answer that is the correct answer?

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