Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah 27: Tazria (She conceives) Vayikra (Leviticus) 12:1-13:59
Haftarah: M’lakhim Bet (2 Kings) 4:42-5:19
B’rit Chadashah: Luke 2:22-24; 5:12-16
It is not difficult to see where the idea of rabbis also being lawyers, physicians came into being as we read this parashah. The focus of the lesson this week is on diseases and purification. This has multilevel application, not only in the physical realm, but the spiritual. The detail in describing various conditions is consistent with the fact that G-d is a G-d of detail in some areas such as how we are to worship Him and other of His laws and statutes. Yet in others, He allows us to work out our salvation with biblical reasoning and wisdom obtained for above
Scripture states that a woman remains unclean for 7 days if she births a boy, and 14 days if a girl. The reason is because she must be able to attend the circumcision of her son on the eighth day. Today we know the immune system of infants is optimal at eight days which makes the eighth day perfect time for circumcision. With the birth of a boy she is to wait another 33 days to be purified from her blood. Isn’t it interesting that 33 was also Yahshua’s age at his crucifixion. Thirty-three plus seven days accounting for her uncleanliness equals 40, the number of testing. In another context, it stands for completeness of punishment or testing. Recall Yahshua was struck 39 times instead of 40. This was meant to add insult to injury. If a girl child is born, the mother must wait another 66 days in addition to the two weeks for her uncleanliness. Sixty-six plus 14 equals 80, the number of a generation if we are strong (Psalm 90:10). Verse 5. – If she gives birth to a girl, she shall be unclean two weeks; … and she shall continue in the blood of her purifying threescore and six days.
The reason why the duration of the mother’s uncleanness is twice as long at a girl’s birth as at a boy’s, would appear to be that the uncleanness attached to the child as well as to the mother, but as the boy was placed in a state of ceremonial purity at once by the act of circumcision, which took place on the eighth day, he thereupon ceased to be unclean, and the mother’s uncleanness alone remained; whereas in the case of a girl, both mother and child were unclean during the period that the former was “in the blood of her purifying,” and therefore that period had to be doubly long. See Luke 2:20, where the right reading is, “When the days of their purification, according to the Law of Moses, were accomplished.” For eight days, the infant Saviour submitted to legal uncleanness in “fulfilling all righteousness” (Matt. 3;15), and therefore the whole forty days were spoken of as “the days of their purification
Now let’s take another look at Lev. 12:6, “When the days of her purification are over, whether for a son or for a daughter, she is to bring a lamb in its first year for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or dove for s sin offering to the entrance of the tent of meeting, to the Cohen.” Let’s compare this to Luke 2:22 where we are talking about Yahshua’s birth and the events shortly after. Luke 2:22-3 read, “When the time came for their purification according to the Torah of Moshe, they took him up to Yerushalayim to present him to Adonai (as it is written in the Torah of Adonai, Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to Adonai) and also to offer a sacrifice of a pair of doves or two young pigeons, as required by the Torah of Adonai.” In our parashah the mother is to bring a lamb in its first year for a burnt offering. In Luke we have Yahshua in his first year as the Lamb who would be sacrificed for our sins as a burnt offering. In our parashah the mother also brings one pigeon or dove for a sin offering to the entrance of the tent of meeting. In Luke it is a pair of doves or pigeons to be sacrificed as a sin offering. Another statement that needs explanation is Luke 2:22 that reads, “When the time came for their purification.…”
Let’s first address the subject of a mother who is required to bring one dove or pigeon, and the pair required in Luke 2:23. We are talking about Miryam (Mary) and Yosef (Joseph). As humans they were both impure. Could it be that the purification process required of a mother was also required for Joseph as the purification process of the heart and soul we must all go through since the arrival of Yahshua? Typical of the Bible, the comparison of these passages from the Old Testament to the B’rit Chadashah illustrates the logical extension and conceptual consistency of the Bible. The impure state of both Mary and Joseph is confirmed by the fact that each must offer a dove or pigeon for a sin offering. We can also see the profound significance of Yahshua’s birth in Luke 2:22-3. Note in our parashah the birds are to be offered in addition to the lamb. In Luke 2:22-3 there is no mention of a lamb as a burnt offering. Again, there was no need for Mary and Joseph to procure a lamb for the required burnt offering. Although they could not understand the full meaning of that which was revealed to them by the Gavri’el (G-d is my Guide), they would one day look on as their Son became the only acceptable burnt offering for the past sins of the world. They would not realize the reality of what Gavri’el told Miryam in their physical lives.
The Sages teach that tzara’at as the subject of our parashah is not actually a disease of organic origin. Rather, it is a variety of physical manifestations of various levels stemming from spiritual issues. There are two details in the Levitical record that cannot apply to leprosy as we know it today. The whiteness described and the presence of the disease on the scalp. Doctors have stated that the disease of leprosy as we know it are never white and that leprosy of the scalp is extremely rare. Furthermore, it occurs as a late symptom in advanced disease and not an initial one.
Tzara’at is a punishment designed to show the one undergoing the process that he must repent. The Sages say the primary cause of tzara’at is slander because the word mitzora is a contraction of motz’ra, one who spreads slander. Similarly, the Sages teach that the affliction is a punishment for the sins of bloodshed, false oaths, sexual immorality, pride, robbery, and selfishness; seven sins in all. G-d rebukes this antisocial/anti-Torah behavior by isolating him from society, so that he can experience the pain he has imposed on others- and heal himself through repentance. I submit that G-d does this today in often a more benevolent way at times. If His judgment were as obvious and direct today as it was in our parashah, all of us would be running around shouting “unclean, unclean!”
Lev.13:13 describes a condition in which a person is so completely covered with tzara’at that he is declared clean. How can this be? Does this mean that the more we sin, the more grace that will be given to us? No; on the contrary, this represents a person who is so morally corrupt that he doesn’t even think of changing. An example of this type of person was Pharaoh. He was so corrupt, G-d allowed him to harden his own heart past the point of repentance and subsequent forgiveness. There is no point in isolating this person. But by telling him he is clean, the Torah forces him to admit how low his spiritual condition has become. As hopeless as this may seem, Lev. 13:14 tells us that there is yet hope for one who repents. For “On the day healthy flesh appears in it, it shall be contaminated, it is tzara’at.” Isolation can be a wonderful thing. Consider why G-d took the Israelites through a desert instead of an oasis filled with beautiful waterfalls, plants and gourmet food. Consider why Yahshua did not offer singing, dancing, art classes and other types of “frills” during his ministry. Isolation from people or the environment tends to foster introspection or a willingness to listen to whatever is most manifest at the time. In the desert, G-d planned for the people to focus on Him, serving Him, and loving Him. Most of them remained obstinate and continued to focus on selfish desires and their past lives that included quail, leeks, and such. I find it sad how we can become so easily obsessed with food, entertainment, and other externalities of our physical universe and so resistant to developing the character and life our G-d mandates and will ultimately reward. The plethora of reality shows that have no merit provides sufficient evidence. Even more so, people who walked in the very presence of G-d and Yahshua, manifested as a pillar of fire and a cloud respectively failed to focus on the “direct object” of the sentence. Yahshua’s unattractive appearance was designed to draw people to His message, not His physique (Isaiah 53:2). His desire was and is for people to focus on Him, serve Him, and love Him. Most will fail for the same reasons all but those under the age of the census, Joshua (Y’hoshua), and Caleb (Kelev) failed. We are so easily distracted by the world around us, that we mistakenly perceive it as reality. As we are pulled into a black hole of spiritual depravity, we become so contaminated we are considered “clean” where isolation is no longer helpful. Yet, Yahshua provides us the mental capacity to recognize our lost state, turn to Him and accept His sacrifice for our past sins and rejection of His Torah; indeed, YHVH/Yahshua himself. Like Mary and Joseph, we can be purified, but not through the sin sacrifice of doves or pigeons. Our purification is accomplished through the blood of the Lamb in its first year by way of a burnt offering that is a complete offering (Yahshua’s sacrifice). YHVH /Yahshua demands the same level of complete sacrifice of our humanity as He did of Mary and Joseph. Mary was required to die to self by allowing herself to be placed in a situation that could have brought death. Joseph had to accept that he was not the father of the Messiah; he had to place all of his trust and faith on the angel’s message and forget about manly pride. YHVH/Yahshua expects no less from us. He does not honor our efforts to overlay our current lifestyle with a religious façade. We have to kill our selfish, egotistical selves on a daily basis and make ourselves fit vessels for housing the ways of G-d.
Haftarah: 2 Kings 4:42-5:19
This week’s haftarah describes how a prophet miraculously cured an Aramite General of his tzara’at as we discussed in the parashah. The beginning of the passage briefly mentions one of the prophet Elisha’s miraculous accomplishments through the power of G-d. He received a mere twenty loaves of bread and a sack of grain. At Elisha’s insistence, this gift was shared among 100 men. The food was enough and there was more to spare.
Naaman, who was an Aramite general, contracted tzara’at. A young captive Israelite maid advised him saying “I wish my lord could go to the prophet in Shomron! He could heal his tzara’at. Acting on her suggestion, the king of Arman sent a message to the King of Israel telling him Naaman was on his way and that he was to cure him of his tzara’at. The king panicked, until Elisha sent him a message after he heard of the King tearing his clothes. Naaman was sent to Elisha and was advised to immerse himself seven times in the Jordan River. At first Naaman was outraged that Elisha would not come to him personally and wave his hands over the sore and call on the Name of G-d. Ironically, his servants had the right idea telling him that if Elisha had asked him to do something difficult, he would have done it, so why not follow simple directions? The root of the problem is a common one; one that cost hasatan his position and standing with G-d. It was pride. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? Naaman relents and does as Elisha told him. Guess what? He was immediately healed. What else does this teach us? Note that Naaman wanted to stay in one spot and have Elisha come to HIM. But, Naaman wound up going to the river instead. Get it? We have to be obedient to G-d’s commands just as Naaman’s finally was to Elisha’s command. Naaman had to go out to the water instead of Elisha coming to a stationary Naaman. As our Rosh Rebbe taught, faith is action based on belief. The formula is simple and cannot be altered.
Elisha refused any gifts from Naaman, and Naaman essentially converted. He promised Elisha that he would no longer serve any deity other than the One G-d. Elisha sent him on his way in peace.
B’rit Chadashah: Luke: 22-24; 5:12-16
We addressed Luke 22:24 and its close relationship to the parashah. Let’s move on to Verse 12-16 in Chapter 5; “Once, when Yahshua was in one of the towns, there came a man completely covered with tzara’at. On seeing Yahshua, he fell on his face and begged him, “Sir, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Is it not interesting that this man does not bargain with Yahshua and he doesn’t beg Yahshua to heal him? He doesn’t proceed to tell Yahshua of all the things he did in Yahshua’s Name or otherwise attempt to justify his lifestyle. Note that from our parashah reading, a man who was completely covered with tzara’at was declared clean because his spiritual state was so low. But this man, although completely covered, knows he is not clean. Furthermore, he is attempting to repent and recognizes Yahshua as the only One who can cure him. The man went to Yahshua; Yahshua did not go to the man. He was simply in the town at the time. Consistent with Yahshua’s humility, he told the man not to broadcast what he had done for the man. Instead he tells the man, “as a testimony to the people, go straight to the Cohen and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moshe commanded.” Yahshua is showing the people that the commands of HaShem remain in force. The healed man was to follow what was written in the Old Testament about offerings made through the Cohen. This would send a message to the religious establishment that the Messiah had come and was at work, doing what only the Messiah can do. Healing a leper, casting out a deaf, dumb, and blind demon were signs noted in 1st century Judaism that would identify the Messiah. Yahshua did not make a public spectacle of himself as the Messiah in the early part of his ministry because He knew the people expected a Messiah who would liberate Israel from Rome and rule in glory, not one who would die the death of a common criminal. Had everyone known he was the Messiah, they would have focused on making him king then and there, instead of what He was trying to teach. However, word got out about Yahshua and His healing the infirm, so “huge crowds would gather to listen and be healed of their sicknesses. However, he made a practice of withdrawing to remote places in order to pray.” Even Yahshua needed a break from healing the sick so he could draw on the strength of his Father. He never advocated for dog and pony shows such as those we often see today.
This parashah is a stark reminder of what we are experiencing today more than ever. A healthcare system going bankrupt testifies to the diseases plaguing our world that never existed, and the resurgence of those we thought were eradicated. What may have appeared to us as superficial infections that we took pride in eradicating are in fact uncleanliness that remains manifest in the deepest tissues of humanity. We must acknowledge our uncleanliness before YHVH/Yahshua and clean up our acts before the final curtain. We must never give up in our quest to ascend in our relationship with G-d. We shouldn’t need to be afflicted with tzara’at to realize we are unclean sinners who need to repent and keep watch on our hearts and minds on a daily basis. Furthermore, the lesson on tzara’at shows us that once we are purified, we can still become unclean. Tzara’at is an effective way to grab our attention. Patients who cancel appointments or who generally do not follow a prescribed plan of care typically show up when the problems they were warned would happen if they continued their current lifestyle. It is heartbreaking to watch individuals deteriorate and sometimes die because of their lifestyle even when educated on the dangers of continuing detrimental behaviors. The sad part is that the complications occurring as a consequence of ignoring G-d’s Torah which include diet could have and can be avoided or at least minimized in many cases. So it is with sin and our relationship to YHVH/Yahshua. The process of repentance and purification is an ongoing race because we still have the sinful nature within us. However, through acceptance of Yahshua’s sacrifice, we have a way to overcome the sin nature .We know that G-d can and does use adversities in our lives for His glory. Sometimes that means a total surrender to His will, no matter the physical consequences. However, G-d gives wisdom to those who follow Him. We are then armed with discernment and common sense that helps us to make wise lifestyle choices as the Ruach HaKodesh guides us. We must come to a point where prayer, Torah study and selflessness dominate our lives and become our “second nature.” No matter how our modern secular humanistic society tries to manipulate and destroy social mores based on G-d’s Torah; teach our children there are no longer any laws, no wrong, no sin, “not one jot nor one tittle shall pass from the law, until all is fulfilled” (Matt: 5:18), only G-d can accomplish such a feat that will not occur until after the Millennial Reign.
Rabbi Tamah Davis-Hart