“Speak unto the children of Israel, saying: If a woman be delivered, and bear a man child.”

– Leviticus 12:1, JPS 1917 Tanach

The miracle of life is addressed within the framework of sanctification. Both the mother and the child are taken into consideration, in terms of their purificaion. The mother as well as child are given a means to commemorate the birth. When a male is born, the mother’s temporary state of impurity is for seven days, permitting her to be present on the eighth day for her son’s circumcision.

The parashas continues with the laws, in regard to tzarras, a skin affliction, often mistranslated as leprosy. The metzora (person who contracts tzarras) is diagnosed and quarantined. Because the metzora has contracted tzarras as a result of lashon hara (literally, evil speech), being isolated outside of the camp provides time for reflection upon the harm done to the recipient of his gossip. H’Shem willing, he will be moved towards teshuvah (repentance). He is at first excided from society, and returns after realizing the negative impact of his speech.

The concept may also be understood within the framework of the sanctity required to approach H’Shem. Since H’Shem’s presence dwells within the mishkan (tabernacle) at the center of the camp, the metzora is separated by way of not being permitted to be in the vicinity of the mishkan. Thus the sanctity of the camp is preserved; and, the metzora is given the opportunity to do teshuvah (repentance), turning his heart back to Elokim (G-d), before being given permission to re-enter the community. Thus, he may also partake of the communal life of prayer and worship again.

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