Torah Portion

Tazria

תזריע

Leviticus 12:1-13:59
Second Kings 4:42–5:19
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Tum’ah: Ritual Impurity or Fear of Contagious Disease?

Tum’ah: Ritual Impurity or Fear of Contagious Disease?

Already in the early 2nd millennium B.C.E., people knew that diseases were contagious, and fear of contagion plays a key role in the Torah’s laws regarding the skin ailment, tzaraʿat. What does this mean for understanding other kinds of tum’ah?

Dr.
Yitzhaq Feder
TheGemara.com
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Gendering a Child with Ritual

Gendering a Child with Ritual

A child’s mother remains impure for forty days after the birth of a boy and eighty days after a girl. A comparison of this procedure with similar ones in Hittite birth rituals suggests that this gender-based differentiation may serve as a kind of ritual announcement of the child’s gender.

Dr.
Kristine Henriksen Garroway
TheGemara.com
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Tzaraat in Light of Its Mesopotamian Parallels

Tzaraat in Light of Its Mesopotamian Parallels

Notwithstanding its lengthy coverage of tzaraat (צרעת, biblical “leprosy”), why does the Torah omit discussion of its cause (sin?), its infectiousness, and its treatment? Comparison to the Mesopotamian rituals pertaining to a strikingly similar disease (Saḫaršubbû) shows that these omissions were far from accidental.

Dr.
Yitzhaq Feder
TheGemara.com
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TheGemara.com
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TheGemara.com

A Sin Offering for Birth Anxiety

A Sin Offering for Birth Anxiety

Following the purification period after birth, a mother must bring a חטאת –“sin offering,” despite her having committed no obvious sin. This offers us a unique glimpse into the prehistory of the Israelite cult, when apotropaic rituals (used to protect against dangerous forces) like those in other ANE cultures, were the norm.

Dr.
Yitzhaq Feder
TheGemara.com
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TheGemara.com

The Parturient's “Days of Purity”: From Torah to Halacha

The Parturient's “Days of Purity”: From Torah to Halacha

In reference to the parturient, the Torah speaks of a 33 or 66 day period of דמי טהרה “blood of her purity” as distinguished from a 7 or 14 day period “like menstruation.” What is the difference between these two periods according to Leviticus and how did later groups such as rabbinic Jews, Karaites, Samaritans, and Beta Israel understand it?

Dr. Rabbi
Zev Farber
TheGemara.com
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TheGemara.com

Tazria

תזריע

Leviticus 12:1-13:59

...וְהִנֵּה כֵּהָה הַנֶּגַע וְלֹא פָשָׂה הַנֶּגַע בָּעוֹר וְטִהֲרוֹ הַכֹּהֵן...

ויקרא יג:ו

...if the affection has faded and has not spread on the skin, the priest shall pronounce him clean...

Lev 13:6

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Leviticus

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