Ever woken up from a deep sleep and wondered what day it was, where you were or what your name was?! Sometimes we can feel the same way when we read the Bible – particularly as we read this week’s Torah portion. While Scripture is relatively silent concerning some fundamental topics like creation and angels, Tazria is filled with verse after verse about ritual purity and leprosy. Not exactly compelling reading for us in the 21st century! At least, not unless you look below the surface.
Unclean people, according to the Torah, are not allowed to remain as part of the congregation
While I’m convinced that God was very interested in teaching our ancestors basic hygiene in the desert, it seems like He’s also showing us some fundamental principles. Take, for example, ritual purity after childbirth. We learn from this that something very natural (giving birth to children) can cause other processes in the body, which make us unclean. It is as if we just cannot avoid uncleanness – it is a part of our very nature. Skin diseases are also proof that uncleanness can suddenly break out from inside of us, or that we can contract something externally which will make us unclean. In any case, that is the whole point – we become unclean. Unclean people, according to the Torah, are not allowed to remain as part of the congregation in their unclean state – either they ritually purify themselves and are reintroduced into the congregation, or as in the case of some people with chronic skin diseases, they remained outcasts, cut off forever from the congregation and from the only One who could provide forgiveness – God.
The parallel with us is striking. While we may endeavor to live a good life, at some point we will do something bad – making us ‘unclean’. This is because our very nature is corrupt. Our ancestor Adam ruined himself and as a result, ruined his descendants – us.
In our unclean state, we can’t get close to God.
In our unclean state, we can’t get close to God. But because we couldn’t get close to God, He came close to us in the form of His Son, Yeshua the Messiah, who died as a sin offering (see Vayikra/Leviticus 12:6-8 and Yeshayahu/Isaiah 53:10-12), to purify us and to reinstate our relationship with God. Do you feel cut off from God, like you will never be good enough to come to Him?
Do you feel like He could never accept you because of what you have done or have failed to do? The Good News of the Bible is that Yeshua’s death and resurrection cleanses us from everything that we’ve done wrong and that if we choose to put our trust in Him, He will forgive us and give us a brand new life. There’s no confusion about that!
Parsha Tazria: Confused?