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Parshat Tazria


Ah, the dreaded leprosy parsha, the bane of many b'nai mitzvot through the ages. Shabbat Mom has a theory that G-d chooses the quirkiest kids for this one because He thinks that after wrestling with this material they'll be motivated to change the world...After all, it's pretty hard for the average 13-year-old to make spiritual sense out of skin eruptions, much less publicly discuss semen and menstruation when everyone you know is watching. In Tazria, we learn that a woman who bears a male child remains "impure" for 7 days. And "she shall remain in a state of blood purification for thirty-three days: she shall not touch any consecrated thing, nor enter the sanctuary..." If she has a girl, she remains "impure" for 2 weeks, but she's in this blood purification state for twice as long, 66 days. (Clearly this was written long before the #MeToo movement.) Then we get to the poor person who "has a swelling, a rash, or a discoloration and it develops into a scaly affection on the skin of his body..." (See self-portrait with challah dough..) He or she must be examined by Aaron or one of his son's to determine if the patch "appears to be deeper than the skin of his body" and not just on the surface.

If so, he is "(pronounced) impure....his head shall be left bare...and he shall call out, 'Impure! Impure!'" The person must dwell "outside the camp to protect the others. (Interestingly, if the leprosy covers every inch of the person's body "he is pure for he has turned all white.")

This Shabbat is also Rosh Chodesh, the beginning of the new month (when a second scroll is removed from the ark). In honor of Nissan, a third Torah scroll comes out in honor of this first month of the Jewish year. The Israelites' exodus from Egypt gave them control of their own time; that was the moment when G-d instructed about them about how and when to mark the holidays, the sacred calendar.

Shabbat Shalom!

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