Parashat Tazria-Metzora

Metzora, M’tzora, (Hebrew for “one being diseased,”) is the 28th weekly parashah or portion in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading and the fifth in the book of Leviticus. It constitutes Leviticus 14:1–15:33. Jews in the Diaspora generally read it in April.

The lunisolar Hebrew calendar contains up to 54 weeks, the exact number varying between leap years and regular years. In years with 54 weeks (for example, 2008), parashah Metzora is read separately on the 28th Sabbath after Simchat Torah. In years with fewer than 54 weeks (for example, 2006, 2007, and 2009), parashah Metzora is combined with the previous parshah, Tazria, to help achieve the needed number of weekly readings.

The Sidra for today is a delicate subject, but one that has become relevant in our Synagogues.

The parashah commences with G-d’s commands concerning a woman’s uncleanness after giving birth of children. She was unclean for seven days for a boy and two weeks for a girl.

Here is the question!  Why is she to bring a SIN offering just because she gave birth to a baby?    This is a sensitive issue, the woman is emotionally vulnerable after having given birth, and is called unclean, and to be referred to as sinful as well, would be too much.

The answer to this is that it is to do with the discharge of blood during childbirth. She is UNCLEAN, she has not sinned. She has had a baby, she has fulfilled the mitzvot, ‘to go forth and be fruitful’. However, the Sin Offering was part of the purification offering.

I want to link this with Vayikra 15: 19 – 31, which discusses a woman’s uncleanness during her ‘niddah’ time of the month. This raises the question should a woman stay away from the Synagogue during this time? Well if it does, we would have no-one there. After all, the mitzvot of uncleanness does not just apply to women.

Firstly, we are talking about the subject of the Tabernacle and being ritually clean to enter the Tabernacle.  The same rules applied when the Temple, HaBeit Mikhdash was in existence. For the period of time laid down by HaShem, the woman remained ritually unclean. Whoever she touched, whatever she touched became ritually unclean and the person touched by the unclean woman was then ritually unclean to enter the Tabernacle/Temple. So this was related to the Tabernacle/Temple worship.

Secondly, uncleanness was not sinfulness!  Because you were unclean did not mean you had sinned.  It only meant you had come into contact with some person or object that was unclean making you ritually unclean to enter the Tabernacle/Temple.

Now here’s another controversial statement: ‘Yeshua was unclean’ at times because he lived in this world. He, as with all babies at birth (except on the television and in the films where all babies seem to be born clean) was unclean, and during his everyday life, he came into contact with people and objects that would have made him ritually unclean. But that did not matter if he was not going to the Temple!

There is a wonderful story in the Messianic reading this week of a woman who was suffering from an issue of blood and had suffered many years. She would have been isolated from society and certainly would not have been allowed to enter the Temple; she should not even have been in the crowd the day Yeshua arrived in the region. However, she heard of Yeshua and His reputation, that He was working all kinds of miracles and she believed in Him and thought “if I could only touch the hem of His garments, I will be healed.”

The Hebrew used here, ‘kanaf bigdo’, is literally the corner of the garment. The corner of the garment is where the tzitziot would be attached, this is known as the ‘kanaf’ and it also means ‘wings’. Malachi 4:2 says, “But to you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will break out leaping, like calves released from the stall.” Malachi was saying the Messiah would come like the Sun of Righteousness i.e. He is the radiance of justice and righteousness, and He will come with healing in His wings (Kanaph). This lady would have known this passage, and reached out and took hold of Yeshua’s Tzitzit and was immediately healed.

I’m reminded that in Mathew 14: 35-36, we see… “When the people of the place recognised him, they sent word throughout the neighbourhood and brought him everyone who was ill. They begged him that the sick people might only touch the tzitzit on his robe, and all who touched it were completely healed. Not just the lady with the issue of blood, but many knew and understood these scriptures about the Messiah. Yeshua knew power had gone out of Him but instead of condemning the lady, He praised her and said ‘Your faith has made you well. Go in peace. ‘Shalom’. Yeshua’s healing is not just physical; He came as the Messiah to bring spiritual healing to all who will accept Him and His teachings.

In Mattit’yahu 8: “Then a man afflicted with tzara‘at came, kneeled down in front of him and said, “Sir, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Yeshua reached out his hand, touched him and said, “I am willing! Be cleansed!” And at once he was cleansed from his tzara‘at.  Then Yeshua said to him, “See that you tell no one; but as a testimony to the people, go and let the cohen examine you, and offer the sacrifice that Moshe commanded.””

The young leper said “L-rd if you are willing”; Yeshua replied, “I AM willing, be clean.”

Today, He says “I AM willing.”

Are you?

Rabbi Boaz