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Weekly D'rash Tazria HaChodesh

This week our Torah portion (Leviticus 12:1–13:59) describes situations in which people are “clean” or “unclean.” In Hebrew, the words are “tamay” (unclean) or “tahor” (clean). These designations have nothing to do with sin, but the ability to enter the Tabernacle or Temple. All the situations mentioned in these chapters are physical in nature. They include childbirth, skin disease, and emissions of bodily fluids. We may wonder why these states are considered unclean. Jacob Milgrom, who was one of the foremost scholars on the book of Leviticus (d. 2010) contended that all these situations symbolize death. “The loss of . . . blood and semen . . . meant the diminution of life and, if unchecked, destruction and death. And it was a process unalterably opposed by Israel’s God, the source of . . . . Moreover, in the Israelite mind, blood was the archsymbol of life. Its oozing from the body was . . . a sign of death . . . . Thus, it was that Israel — alone among the peoples — restricted impurity solely to those physical conditions involving the loss of . . . blood and semen, the forces of life, and to scale disease, which visually manifested the approach of death.” (Jacob Milgrom, Leviticus 1–16:TheAnchor Yale Bible Commentaries: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary [New Haven: Yale University, 1998], 767.)

It is interesting that in the descriptions of the future we read about the end of death. One aspect of the end of death is the end of impurity. No more would anyone be disqualified from the presence of God. In Messiah Yeshua death is conquered! In the New Covenant Scriptures, Yeshua heals people who are considered unclean. The healing of a man with a skin disease shows us that Messiah Yeshua is the one who makes us clean. In Hebrews 10:19–22 we read: “Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Yeshua, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”

Yeshua brings healing to the one who is considered unclean or unqualified to enter the presence of God. We are all unclean until we embrace the Messiah who forgives us and cleanses us. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

As we approach Passover, may we meditate on the great deliverance that we have in Him!

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Howard

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