This week sees the rare spectacle of three Siphrei Torah being read from. This is because it is Shabbat (1) and Rosh Chodesh (2) and the last of the four special shabbatot – Shabbat Hachodesh (3).
The Sidrot of Tazria and Metzora, which we read this and next Shabbat, form the basis of the final, sixth order of the Mishnah, called Taharot, which means ’Purities’. They concentrate on all of them the intricate laws regarding purity and defilement. The Sidra of Tazria begins with the laws appertaining to the defilement and purification of a new mother, who has just had a baby. These laws are followed by those relating to the defilement caused by a variety of diseases which affect human beings, as well as their clothes and houses.
If there is any area in which a human being emulates its Creator, if there is any act by which we express the spark of divinity at our core, it is the miracle of childbirth. This subject forms the opening theme of this week’s Sedra. But what are the consequences of this momentous, life- affirming event? We are told that when a woman gives birth to a boy she remains in a state of ritual impurity (tame’ah) for seven days, and when she gives birth to a girl she has the same tame’ah status for fourteen days.