Torah Portion

Tazria-Metzora

תזריע מצורע

Leviticus 12:1–15:33
Second Kings 7:3–20

Postpartum Impurity: Why Is the Duration Double for a Girl?

Postpartum Impurity: Why Is the Duration Double for a Girl?

Compared to the birth of a son, Leviticus 12 requires a double-period of purification upon the birth of a daughter. Interpreters in antiquity offered two basic models to explain this. The first approach was to utilize biological “knowledge,” the second was to ground the law in the biblical story of Adam and Eve.

Dr. Rabbi
Zev Farber
TheGemara.com
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TheGemara.com

Postpartum “Bloods of Purity”

Postpartum “Bloods of Purity”

Mesopotamian gynecological texts and what we know about women’s post-partum flow are helpful in parsing the unusual Hebrew idiom demei tohorah, literally, “bloods of purity,” used in Leviticus 12 to describe the second stage of postpartum bleeding.

Prof.
Tamar Kamionkowski
TheGemara.com
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TheGemara.com

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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TheGemara.com
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TheGemara.com

Menstruant as Zavah: How the Laws of Niddah Developed

Menstruant as Zavah: How the Laws of Niddah Developed

Leviticus 15 describes two types of impure bleeding for women: menstruation (niddah), and bleeding that is “not during her menstrual period (zavah).” The Rabbis attempt to define the difference in an abstract manner, and in so doing, elide the two.

Prof.
Charlotte Elisheva Fonrobert
TheGemara.com
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TheGemara.com
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Sex During Menstruation: From Impurity to Prohibition

Sex During Menstruation: From Impurity to Prohibition

According to Leviticus 15:24, sex with a menstruating woman results in temporary impurity but seems to be allowed. According to Leviticus 18:19 and 20:18, on the other hand, it is strictly prohibited. What accounts for these two different approaches?

Dr.
Eve Levavi Feinstein
TheGemara.com
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Niddah (Menstruation): From Torah to Rabbinic Law

Niddah (Menstruation): From Torah to Rabbinic Law

In Leviticus 15, the laws of niddah are about purity; Lev 18 and 20, however, prohibit sex during menstruation. The rabbis, who inherited both of these texts, create a new, hybrid concept: the prohibition of sex while a woman has the status of menstrual impurity.

Prof.
Charlotte Elisheva Fonrobert
TheGemara.com
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TheGemara.com
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TheGemara.com

Can Elijah Reconcile Fathers and Sons ?

Can Elijah Reconcile Fathers and Sons ?

Biblical tradition often depicts difficult father and son relationships. Accordingly, the concluding verses of Malachi—the final book of the Prophets—imagines ultimate redemption through a metaphor of father-son reconciliation, in which the fire and brimstone prophet Elijah is its unlikely harbinger. Leave it to the poet Yehuda Amichai to step in and offer a counter-model to rescue the metaphor.

Prof.
Wendy Zierler
TheGemara.com
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TheGemara.com
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TheGemara.com

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

On the Origins of Tevilah (Ritual Immersion)

On the Origins of Tevilah (Ritual Immersion)

When and why washing became immersion: between traditional-rabbinic and scientific-critical approaches to the origin of immersion and the mikveh.[1]

Dr.
Yonatan Adler
TheGemara.com
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TheGemara.com
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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
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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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Tazria-Metzora

תזריע מצורע

Leviticus 12:1–15:33

...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

Leviticus
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