Just like most Jewish synagogues everywhere we read through the Torah each year. The Torah portions are listed here and you will also see a drash(short teaching) from each. As the years and months go on the drash will be more and more complete, we pray it will be a blessing to your life yielding fruit just like Etz Chaim (“Tree of life”). “It is a tree of life to those who take hold of it and happy are those who support it. Its ways are ways of pleasantness, and all its paths are peace”.
Weekly Parsha by David Friedman, former academic dean of King of Kings College in Jerusalem, holds a Ph.D. in Judaic studies and an M.A. in Arabic.
Author of They Loved the Torah
A well-informed discussion which will help New Covenant believers think about the place of Torah in their lives."
David Stern--author and translator of the Jewish New Testament and Commentary, theComplete Jewish Bible, and other Messianic Jewish books
Today’s parasha is Tazria-Metzora ("bodily issues-skin diseases”, Leviticus 12:1-15:33). I should be an expert on the skin disease portion of our text after this winter’s struggle that I had, but thanks to God, I am well again! The skin around my eyes has returned to looking and feeling normal.
Our parasha deals with when and how a person gets ritually cleansed from "niddah” (Hebrew for ‘a state of ritual impurity’). In such a state, one was forbidden to enter the Temple or the Tabernacle in order to pray or to make offerings to God. One had to be ritually clean first. The instructions on how ritual cleansing was to occur for various states of "niddah” is the crux of our parasha today.
The gist of this week’s portion reminds me of a portion of scripture from the book of Isaiah:
"Why should you be beaten anymore? Why do you persist in rebellion? Your whole head is injured, your whole heart afflicted. From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness—only wounds and welts and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with oil...Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean...Come now, let us reason together,”says the LORD.
"Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. (Isaiah 1.5-6, 16, 18, NIV).
Being beaten up, as described above, put the entire nation into a state of tumah (impurity), into niddah (state of separation from God due to impurity). Everyone was unable to approach God. What brought about this national state of niddah? "Rebellion” and "sins” according to the text. It is heartening to see God’s attitude: "Come, let’s reason together”. God approached the people, rebuked them, but was the first party to offer the path to reconciliation. A similar path to reconciliation, again by God’s initiative, is seen in Zechariah 13. This is a powerful chapter that has yet to occur in Israel’s history. In it, the entire nation is once again in niddah, separated from God by our straying from Him. Look what He does to our impure situation to make us able to approach Him:
"On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity. On that day, I will banish the names of the idols from the land, and they will be remembered no more, declares the LORD Almighty. I will remove both the prophets and the spirit of impurity from the land” (Zech. 13.1-2, NIV).
The Hebrew word for "fountain” means a powerful water source. An immersion in water was the final step taken by a person in niddah in order to be restored to a state of purity. God takes two actions in these two verses, to cleanse Israel: He provides a powerful water immersion for Israel’s royal house and for Jerusalem’s residents (today we number some half a million people), and then He pronounces us in a state of purity. The upshot is that now we can approach Him and have an intimate relationship with Him, as a nation.
And last but not least, idolatry will no longer be allowed to exist in the Land. No foreign religions, no man-made systems, no false gods, will live on anymore. The Land itself will be cleansed (interestingly enough, according to Jewish law, the entire land of Israel is in a ritually impure condition today. This is acknowledged by all Jewish people worldwide).
The Scripture tells us that someday, God Himself will ritually and spiritually purify both the Land and people of Israel in one fell swoop! (cf. Zech. 12:10ff, 14:4ff and our chapter 13 above). This is a powerful illustration of what our parasha text explains to us this week: the process of cleansing from ritual impurity, by the giving work of the Aaronic priests. Zechariah brings this up a level further, to the concept of national cleansing from ritual impurity, by the authority of the Melchisedek-order high priest (Messiah Yeshua). Zechariah’s images are built upon understanding today’s parasha in Leviticus. This is one reason why it is very worthwhile to study the parasha well. Happy studying!