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Parasha No. 27
Thazria: “If a woman be delivered”

Vayikra (Leviticus) 12, 1 - 13, 59

Thazria: The glory of woman - Metzora: Slander and the hidden fruit


First level: purity and impurity in Judaism
- Themes and mitzvot
- The Jewish view of purity, impurity and purification
- Purity and the sexes
- Rabbenu Bahya: a just order
- The Shla: light emerges from darkness
- Conclusion

The second level is for those who have studied the first level and know the traditional method of study.

Second level: The nature of woman, according to the Torah
- Three spheres of sanctification
- Women's rhythms and cycles
- Women and the sanctuary
- From imperfect to perfect
- Women's power of creation
- The beauty in the Jewish concept of women
- Desire (ratzon) between men and women
- 33 days of purity
- The "light-headedness" of women
- Imperfection and holiness
- Lessons to be drawn
- A thought on the relationship of women to time
- The risk

Reminder: each commentary
of the Torah on Modia is also
a Hebrew lesson. It is important
to memorize the vocabulary.

First level
Purity and impurity in Judaism

We need to study the commentaries of the Sages in order to understand this parasha.

Themes and mitzvot

Parasha Thazria describes mitzvot 167-173 and parasha Metzora describes mitzvot 174-184 (there are 613 mitzvot in the Torah).
The mitzvot deal with different types of impurity: following childbirth, during meals linked to sacrifices, certain tumors of the skin, wounds, burns, "leprosy" in garments and on walls, issues in men and women's menstruation. They set out the procedures of purification for each case, and relate in particular to the poor and the role of the Cohanim.

The Jewish view of purity, impurity and purification
What is immediately apparent is that the Jewish view of purity and impurity is special, for it does not relate to what is dirty or repugnant. The Jewish view is that:
impurity occurs whenever the process of life is stopped. The process of life does not always move forward: after pregnancy and childbirth, there is a stop in the development of the mother's body and this then is a period of "impurity" and of "purification."
Impurity also occurs when a process that is supposed to give forth life is stopped (as with the issue of semen in men).
Purity and impurity are linked to life and time.

Purity and the sexes
Since men and women have different concepts of time, they are governed by different laws. Indeed men's relationship with a fetus is very short, while that of women is long and lasts throughout the period of pregnancy. Women have biological rhythms, which are moreover lunar, while men have no such links to the rhythms of life.
Without knowing the reasons yet, we understand what the parasha tells us: the rules of purification for men and women are different (seven days of impurity following the birth of a boy and 14 days following the birth a girl, then there is period of the blood of purification which is 33 days for a boy and 66 for a girl).
The role of the Cohanim and of sacrifices in the process of purification teach us that these rites do not just concern material and biological life, but are rites that draw us close to divine life.

Rabbenu Bahya
He introduces his commentary to the parasha with a verse from Proverbs: "A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is" (15, 23).
Through this, Rabbenu Bahya shows us that creation is structured around time and rhythms, and that to live in this way is a source of happiness.
Man has to establish an order of life, and know what comes before and what comes after: the same is the case for thought, speech and for the way we live our lives.
Whatever harms or stops this order of life must undergo a process of reparation and education so that the ideal order can be re-established.
We saw, in the preceding chapters, that the role of the Temple and the priests (the Cohanim) is to help the people of Israel correct and repair the things that have been harmed in this order of life. The cohanim represented ideal man, in the image of the Creator.

The Shla
The Shla opens his commentary on Vayikra 13, 2 thus: adam ki yiye veor bessaro (a man who has on his skin a tumor..). In relation to skin (or), he explains that the garments of the Cohanim represented honor (kavod) and beauty (tiferet).
They correspond to the garment which the Creator gave to Adam and Eve after their sin: a garment of skin (kutonetor) in place of the garment of light (or) which they previously possessed. The similarity between the two words stresses the healing role of the Cohanim.
This is why, in Bereshit 3, 21, Onkelos translates "garment of skin" (kutonet or) as "garment of glory" in Arameic (levushin dikar). The Shla notes that Onkelos links three expressions: garment of light, garment of skin, garment of the Cohen.
(Note: Rashi does not refer to Onkelos's translation in Bereshit 3, 21. Refer to my commentary on parasha Ki Thissa, 2nd level, for an explanation of Rashi's attitude to Onkelos.)
The Shla then goes on to cite Kohelet 2, 13 -- kiteron haor min hahoshekh, light is superior to darkness - and interprets it as meaning that Hashem makes purity come out of impurity. He developed this theme in his commentary on Shabbat Hagadol, which is found in Masekhet Pesahim.

In his conclusion, the Shla shows us that, through these cases of impurity that seem strange to us at first, the parasha is in fact dealing with the restoration of order in our acts, speech and thoughts. This is the work we must do on ourselves during the period of the Omer.


Exercises for personal development
" What do you feel is the role of impurity in Judaism; adjust it according to the Torah as described above.
" Memorize the Jewish definition of impurity.

2nd Level
The nature of women

Through the rhythms and cycles of women, the parasha teaches how to sanctify ourselves in relation to time.

Three spheres of sanctification
There are three spheres of sanctification which correspond to the three gifts which God gave us: that of the Torah, that of time which is oriented towards the "world to come" (olam habba) and that of space which represents the land of Israel, for leprosy in a house relates to the houses in the land of Israel.
In opposition to this, the beginning of the parasha is often wrongly interpreted as relating solely to the "impurities" of women. This is wrong because the text refers to times of impurity and times for the blood of purification. The attitude of minimizing and distorting the nature of women is part of a wider sociological phenomenon. It is important to understand this process of distortion and what it represents, for without this, humanity cannot evolve and the suffering of women will persist.
It is therefore important to examine this theme.

Women's rhythms and cycles
Note the rhythms and cycles of women as outlined by the parasha:
One) seven days of impurity after the birth of a boy and 14 days after a girl (this is not interpreted as referring to women's impurity but to the fact that a woman who gives birth also ejects things from a preceding stage: indeed Rashi notes that this does not refer to loss of blood, for there are births that do not involve loss of blood, but to a state of discomfort and illness, holi, due to a reorganization of the system);
Two) circumcision on the eighth day; we have seen the meaning of the number 8 (women therefore have the capacity of causing this level to be reached);
Three) then there is the time of the "blood of purification." This is a case of mistranslation for as Rashi notes, this should be translated as "the bloods of purity" (toar). He adds: "she is pure even when she loses blood" (af al pi sheroa tehora) and he explains the grammatical basis for his interpretation.
This then is a period of purity; time is accorded to it and it lasts until this state of purity has reached a level of plenitude, male (ad melot yemei tahora).

Women and the sanctuary
A linguistic study of the text reveals an important point about women: Rashi uses the same term male when he comments on the inauguration of the sanctuary in parasha Tzav (Vayikra 8, 2). He speaks of days of plenitude, yemei hamiluyim, seven days before the month of Nisan. He writes in the same vein about parasha Naso, Bemidbar 7, 1: "And it came to pass on the day that Moshe had made an end of setting up the sanctuary" (ve yehi beyom kalot Moshe leakim et hamishkan). The word kalot means "everything" but Rashi tells us that we should understand the word here as meaning "bride": " kalot ketiv, yom hakamat hamishkan hayu Yisrael kekala hanikhnesset la huppa" (kalot, accomplishment is written, the day of the inauguration of the sanctuary, Yisrael was like a kala, a bride entering under the huppa).

From imperfect to perfect
Rashi helps us to understand the beauty of this process of purification or gradual elevation which applies to women. Moving from a state of imperfection to a state of perfection is a gradual process and only the malevolent, who do not see this process, describe others as impure.

Women, the universe and the sanctuary
We can now see that the role of women is part of a wider process of improving the world, as symbolized in all that pertains to the sanctuary.
Indeed, Moshe built the sanctuary just as Hashem created the world, in plenitude (refer to Rabbenu Bahya's commentary on Shemot 38, 21 in which he shows the similarity between the verses that describe the creation of the world and those that describe the construction of the sanctuary by Moshe, reflected particularly in the use of words of "completeness" and "plenitude": va yekhulu in Bereshit 2, 1: "And the heaven and the earth were finished" and vatekhel in Shemot 39, 32: "Thus was finished all the work of the tabernacle").
In the same way, after having described the dignity of Aharon, who represents the re-incarnation of ideal man and of Adam harishon, the Torah now proceeds, in this parasha, to describe, as in the story of creation, a parallel process of renewal in women through the bearing and giving birth of a child.

Women's power of creation
The circumcision, in this cycle, removes what is left of the orla (the foreskin, what is impure), the symbol of the imperfection that began with Eve. This is why the text says: "if a woman sows (begets) a male child," isha she thazria. Rabbenu Bahya brings together all the teachings of tradition in his commentary on this verse: from the moment of creation, Hava (Eve) was the hidden power (koah ganuz) in Adam; Eve possesses the power, desire and strength of her husband. This means she has the power of his tziur (image), which, when it overtakes his, begets a male child: reciprocally, when the power he has that is in her tziur overtakes hers, it begets a female child. The complementarity is always preserved. This is why the Torah writes this astonishing verse: "if a woman sows (begets) during the sexual relation:" this is a far cry from the passive view of women as perceived by Western culture.
Women's hidden strength is called dam hanekeva, the "blood of women."
From the very beginning of creation, everything was conceived in terms of masculine and feminine together.

The beauty in the Jewish concept of women
Contrary to the popular view of women as sexual objects (to be used and despised), the Jewish concept of women stresses similitude and reciprocity in strength, initiative, and in the dynamics between what is hidden and what is revealed.
The commentators say that this can be seen in the fact that the word "woman" has a prominent place in the opening verses of the parasha.

Desire (ratzon) in men-women relationships
It is important to understand that the hidden strength and desire (ratzon) within men and women, this tziur ganauz male koah, is itself linked to the creator. This is why women are linked so closely to the desire of Hashem Himself, and this is why women declare in their morning prayer: "Blessed be Hashem our God, King of the universe who made me according to his desire, barukh ata Hashem Elokenu melekh haolan she asani kiretzono."
Here again, we find a distorted view in those who accuse Judaism of misogyny because in this prayer a woman thanks God for "having been made according to the ratzon of the creator" while a man thanks God for "not having been made a woman." But the text of these blessings regarding women is simple and clear. It is also clear in respect to men if they can truly see women as they are and recognize in them the superior presence which they do not have, but which they benefit from.
Women are connected to what tradition calls the highest level of God's names, the ratzon and this is what women thank God for in their blessing. Men do not have the same level and they thank God for having to accomplish many more mitzvot. This is what defines the respective worth of women and men and the acceptance of their differences. It is ignorance of the real meaning of the word ratzon (desire) which led people to attribute a negative interpretation to this verse and assume that women are made according to the "will" of God.

Thirty-three days of purity
This allows us to understand Rabbenu Bahya's commentary on verse 4 of the parasha and the 33 days of purity. On the peshat level, this refers to the 40 days of development of the baby (33 + 7 after birth = 40).
On the deepest level of interpretation, Rabbenu Bahya writes that the 32 days of purification given to women correspond to the 32 paths of hohkma (divine wisdom) and to the beloved in the Song of Songs who finds perfection in these paths. This is why the 33 days correspond to 32 and not to 33 they are completed in a union with the "one" of divine wisdom. There is no concept more supreme than this one.

Another example: women's "light-headedness"
One often hears people, who like to attack Judaism for its alleged anti-feminism, cite the Talmud Sage who wrote about the kalut rosh, the "light-headedness" of women. The Shla describes such people with a Jewish proverb that long predates the discovery of projection by psychoanalysis: kol haposel, bemuno posel (those who criticize others, are in fact talking about themselves, Tractate Kiddushin, page 70).
The concept of "lightness" (kal), like that of ratzon, is in fact a very elevated concept. Indeed, in his introduction to the siddur (prayer book), the Shla refers to names of God that use this concept of kal and quotes Isaiah 19,1: hine Hahem rokhev al av kal, "Behold Hashem rideth upon a light (swift) cloud." The Shla demonstrates that this verse refers to the highest levels of the merkava eliona (the divine chariot) which is the source of benediction, for the word rokhev has the same letters as that for benediction and the word cloud (av) is based on the supreme 72 letter name for God. It is impossible to go into the full explanation of these elevated concepts, for this requires study of the Torah at its highest level. It is sufficient to point them out in order to show to what extent elevated concepts can be distorted by those who do not know the tradition, out of hatred for women and the Jewish tradition. Centuries of denigration and persecution have led Jews to adopt these distortions. They are the victims of a cultural Holocaust for they have turned against their own tradition. But, in the end, it is women who are the true victims.

Imperfection and holiness
Let us return to the beginning of the parasha which talks about the period of purification that follows the great changes a woman undergoes in childbirth. Keddusha, holiness, is characterized by plenitude, and a woman gives birth goes through a period of incompleteness and abrupt changes, which takes her out of the state of keddusha. A process of concrete and symbolic reparation and purification is thus required. This has nothing to do with impurity due to having being sullied. It is understandable that such a process is required of a woman after the upheavals of pregnancy and childbirth which modified her plenitude and her being. Moreover, this process takes place in stages and is not the same for a baby boy and girl, for these boys and girls do not have the same make-up, power of reproduction or relationship with their mothers.

These concepts teach us that we must
" study the Torah in depth
" learn the nuances and rules of the language of the Torah
" and avoid projections of our own prejudices, which do not do justice to the wisdom and complexity of the Torah.

A thought on the relationship of women to time
Given the above, we could ask ourselves why women do not have to carry out the many mitzvot related to time, for women's rhythms and reproductive cycles are very much related to time.

The answer has many facets
1. The Shla, in his commentary on verse 7, 6 of Shir Hashirim Rabba, quotes the Sages who stress that a woman belongs to the perfect order of life and to Shabbat; she invigorates our life like Shabbat invigorates the week. Like the Creator, she gives forth life.
2. Linked to the rhythms of creation, women show us, as in the beginning of the parasha, that we must develop in stages, not just intellectually. Avraham also developed in stages, through the 10 trails he underwent. All important human developments are slow and take place in stages; the lower species are characterized by sudden, rapid changes.
3. Tractate Berakhot, page 57, describes this process thus: "a handsome house, a beautiful women, elegant furniture enlarge man's knowledge" (shlosha marhivin deato shel adam, elu hene: dira naa, veisha naa, vekhekim naim). The Hebrew term daat (knowledge) refers to the highest and most complete union between the sexes and not just to intellectual knowledge. The term adam also has a wider meaning and encompasses complete human unity.

The risk
If this process of renewal, which is described in the parasha, is not integrated in the plan of creation, the relations between men and women will disintegrate into flames. This is seen in the components of the Hebrew terms for man (ish) and woman (isha): if one removes the letters of God's name of which each possesses half, all that is left is the Hebrew work for fire (esh). Cut off from the source of life, men and women and all mankind will turn into dust, as described in Psalm 90, 3: tashev enosh ad daka, "thou turnest man to destruction." The word daka is made from the initials of the Hebrew words dira, kelim, isha, meaning "house, furniture, woman," as in quote above.
This example shows us to what extent the Torah requires the same in-depth study and knowledge that students apply to other disciplines. Jews in Israel today think and study in their own language, Hebrew. It is therefore time for all Jews to quit their cultural exile and to stop projecting on the Torah ideas and thoughts that are alien to it. In the previous parashiot, the Torah presented Aharon to us as the prototype of ideal man and as the repairer faults committed since the time of Adam. In this parasha, women are given a similar role and the Torah gives us many examples of men and women we should follow: Shir Hashirim (the Song of Songs), and the songs of Miriam (Shemot 15, 21), Devorah (Judges 5), and Eshet Hayil (Mishle, Proverbs 31).

Each of these great figures plays a part in the restoration of the state of holiness between man and the Creator, till the Messiah.
King David shows us, in the Psalms and in his own history, how necessary it is for man to combat his weaknesses and others in order to develop. Tractate Berakhot, page 57, notes that David uses the word "bless" (barekhi) five times in Psalm 103, for he is straining to reach the 5 levels of the soul (nefesh, ruah, neshama, haya, yehida). His soul then fills his body, sustains it and is pure. Combat and wisdom gained in time were David's two arms.

The above should make us sensitive to the role of women, who are half the universe, as creators of life and to their task to sanctify themselves through the rhythms of time. Men need to know this in order to love, venerate and support them.
Men also need to respect the periods of abstinence which women need in order to restore their state of keddusha. These periods of abstinence and silence are necessary in order to enable true connection. There were periods of silence also between Moshe and Hashem, and they are also necessary in relationships between men.


Exercises of integration
- what are the number of days of purification necessary after the birth of a boy and a girl?
- what does a woman bring to the Cohen after childbirth?
- what is the role of the Cohen?


- Psychology and Repentance
   (in french)

Part 15

Part 16

- Jerusalem excavations
- Terror and counseling
- Peace and peoples
- Israel and Iran
- Visual study & song on snow
for, through our union with the song of nature, the plan of Creation will be fulfilled

Poem: to be moon

In french

Avec Modia, vivez
vos vacances en Israël,
Texte et photos

- Par Modia, arrivez au Kotel
- La vie du Kotel
- Prières au Kotel
- Fête au Kotel
- La destruction du Temple
- Photos rares et émouvantes des abords du Temple
- Synagogues de Jérusalem
- Maisons de Jérusalem
- Les fleurs de Jérusalem
- Ici, tout sur Jérusalem
- "Le" texte sur Jérusalem
- Voir et visiter Israël
- Voyage dans le Nord d'Israël
- Belle carte d'Israël
- Jérusalem et les nations

- Vacances en Israël sur Modia
- Le Kotel en film direct
- et ici aussi, autre caméra

- Trahison historique:
L'antique synagogue de Jéricho


Part 17

- Love towards all people
- Light in war
- Before the hanukiah
- Land of Israel
- Jerusalem excavations 2007
  Proof of the lies propagated
  by the media

In french - Hope in Israel

Part 20
"Encounters with God
in the real"

- You are planning a tour in Israel - Photos
- My photos and judaism
- New year of beauty
- Flowers
Gallery photos

Part 21

- My english songs


Rav Professor
Yehoshua Rahamim Dufour
(Dipur, in hebrew)

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