In this study of Leviticus 12–15, we will be taking a step up and a step back the topics discussed. Some of it is unsettling, and it is easy to lose ourselves in some of the more distasteful details, while forgetting the important life lessons the Holy One of Yisra’el is communicating to us.
Why would God want newborns and their mothers to be purified shortly after birth? Why is God so concerned about leprosy amid instructions for living life differently from the rest of the world? If we stick with appearances, our understanding the heart of God will be only skin deep. That’s what’s between the lines of this week’s Torah reading, תזריע Tazria (“she will conceive”), covering Leviticus 12–13.
The lesson about childbirth goes back to the beginning of the world and stretches to our time. The teaching on leprosy is more about what’s going on inside a person.
Life starts with contamination. It starts out dirty. Childbirth is messy. It’s not sinful; it’s just a fact of life.
The general Bible term for infections of skin and surfaces is “leprosy,” but it covers a host of conditions. It’s also a good parable for “rot” in our character — if the lesson isn’t taken too far.
The Torah reading תזריע Tazria (“she will conceive,” Leviticus 12–13) is concerned about what is physically dirty vs. clean, but the LORD’s lesson for us is more than skin-deep.