Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah 27: Tazria (She conceives) Vayikra (Leviticus) 12:1-13-59
Haftarah: M’lakhim Bet (2 Kings) 4:42-5:19
B’rit Chadashah: Luke 2:22-24; 5:12-16
The first sentence of this week’s Sidra teaches us that there is something special about the eighth day in the Bible. We will start here and progress to the laws concerning discerning benign and malignant diseases that apply to both the physical but more importantly, the spiritual realm. First, G-d provides us physical illustrations of how He expects us to relate to Him and each other, just as He did with presenting His written Torah first. When some in positions of leadership tended to apply His laws, regulations, and statutes in a legalistic manner as do some today, G-d sent a part of Himself as Yahshua to show us how to live the intent of what was written from the beginning (John 1:1-5). The problem of legalistic thinking was the issue with Nicodemus in John chapter 3. He was unable to think outside the box until Yahshua dissected the concept of being born from above.
We see the eighth day used in several scriptures. Forty different people wrote the Scriptures. Forty is a number composed of five (symbolizing grace) times 8 (symbolizing a new beginning). It is therefore only by G-d’s grace and love that man will someday be given a chance for a new beginning, as promised in the Word of G-d. The B’rit Chadashah (New Testament) was penned by only eight men (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, James, Peter, Jude, Paul).Abdon (in the East) was a Judge of Israel who served 8 years (Judges 12:13 – 14).The most joyous Feast period of the year is the eight day period of the Fall Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) which symbolizes G-d’s provision for the Israelites in the desert, and the provision of a Messiah and a promise of everlasting life for those who carry the testimony of Yahshua and guard the commands of HaShem (Seven –fold witness in Revelation). We must remember on a daily basis how G-d provides our daily man (bread) both in the Torah and physically as well. Finally, the seven days of Sukkot are followed by an 8th day celebration with a holy convocation; a public assembly with an offering to Adonai and rest from any ordinary work (Lev. 23:33-36). Abraham had 6 sons: Ishmael, Isaac, Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak and Shuah. Yahshua showed himself alive EIGHT times after his resurrection from the dead. His first appearance alive was to Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:9 – 11). He then showed himself to two disciples traveling to Emmaus (Luke 24). Next, he appeared to all the disciples except Thomas (John 20:19 – 24) then a week later to all them when Thomas was present (John 20:26 – 29). According to the apostle Sha’ul (Paul) Yahshua was also seen by 500 believers at one time (1 Corinthians 15:4 – 7). He also met his disciples at the appointed place in Galilee (Matthew 28:16 – 17) and on Galilee’s shores (John 21:1 – 24). His final meeting was on the Mount of Olives, where he gave his followers instructions before ascending to heaven (Acts 1). Interestingly, G-d preserved eight people on the ark in order to have a new beginning for mankind after the flood. In Gematria, 4 symbolizes perfect earthly creation. Therefore we may deduce that 4 +4=8 which symbolizes once again, a new beginning.
This takes us back to the beginning of this week’s Sidra. Scripture reports that a woman remains unclean for 7 days if she births a boy, and 14 days if a girl. The reason is because she must be able to attend the circumcision of her son on the eighth day. This is a new beginning as the child is circumcised into the covenant of circumcision for all biological Jewish males. Circumcision of the heart also mandates a new beginning for all who sincerely desire to follow the G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Romans 2-3).
Today we know the immune system of infants is optimal at eight days which makes the eighth day perfect time for circumcision. With the birth of a boy she is to wait another 33 days to be purified from her blood. Isn’t it interesting that 33 was also Yahshua’s age at his crucifixion. Thirty-three plus seven days accounting for her uncleanliness equals 40, the number of testing. In another context, it stands for completeness of punishment or testing. Recall Yahshua was struck 39 times instead of 40. This was meant to add insult to injury. If a girl child is born, the mother must wait another 66 days in addition to the two weeks for her uncleanliness. Sixty-six plus 14 equals 80, the number of a generation if we are strong (Psalm 90:10). Now let’s take another look at Lev. 12:6, “ When the days of her purification are over, whether for a son or for a daughter, she is to bring a lamb in its first year for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or dove for s sin offering to the entrance of the tent of meeting, to the Cohen.” Let’s compare this to Luke 2:22 where we are talking about Yahshua’s birth and the events shortly after. Luke 2:22-3 read, “When the time came for their purification according to the Torah of Moshe, they took him up to Yerushalayim to present him to Adonai (as it is written in the Torah of Adonai, Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to Adonai) and also to offer a sacrifice of a pair of doves or two young pigeons, as required by the Torah of Adonai.” In our parasha the mother is to bring a lamb in its first year for a burnt offering. In Luke we have Yahshua in his first year as the Lamb who would be sacrificed for our sins as a burnt offering. In our parasha the mother also brings one pigeon or dove for a sin offering to the entrance of the tent of meeting. In Luke it is a pair of doves or pigeons to be sacrificed as a sin offering. Another statement that needs explanation is Luke 2:22 that reads, “When the time came for their purification.”
Let’s first address the subject of a mother who is required to bring one dove or pigeon, and the pair required in Luke 2:23. We are talking about Miryam (Mary) and Yosef (Joseph). As humans they were both impure. Could it be that the purification process required of a mother was also required for Joseph as the purification process of the heart and soul we must all go through since the arrival of Yahshua? Typical of the Bible, the comparison of these passages from the Old Testament to the B’rit Chadashah illustrates the logical extension and conceptual consistency of the Bible. The impure state of both Mary and Joseph is confirmed by the fact that each must offer a dove or pigeon for a sin offering. We can also see the profound significance of Yahshua’s birth in Luke 2:22-3. Note in our parasha the birds are to be offered in addition to the lamb. In Luke 2:22-3 there is no mention of a lamb as a burnt offering. Again, there was no need for Mary and Joseph to procure a lamb for the required burnt offering. Although they could not understand the full meaning of that which was revealed to them by the Gavri’el G-d is my Guide), they would one day look on as their Son became the only acceptable burnt offering for the past sins of the world. They would not realize the reality of what Gavri’el told Miryam in their physical lives.
The Sages teach that tzaraas is not actually a disease of organic origin. Rather, it is a variety of physical manifestations of various levels stemming from spiritual issues. This is consistent with the holographic theme of the Bible. Tzaraas is a punishment designed to show the one undergoing the process that he must repent. The Sages say the primary cause of tzaraas is slander because the word mitzora is a contraction of motzi’ra, one who spreads slander. Similarly, the Sages teach that the affliction is a punishment for the sins of bloodshed, false oaths, sexual immorality, pride, robbery, and selfishness; seven sins in all. G-d rebukes this antisocial/anti-Torah behavior by isolating him from society, so that he can experience the pain he has imposed on others- and heal himself through repentance. I submit that G-d does this today in often a more benevolent way at times. If His judgment were as obvious and direct today as it was in our parashah, all of us would be running around shouting “unclean, unclean!”
Lev.13:13 describes a condition in which a person is so completely covered with tzara’at that he is declared clean. This doesn’t mean what Martin Luther taught; that we should sin all the more and show the “Devil” that he cannot defeat us and that more grace will result! No; on the contrary, this represents a person who is so morally corrupt that he doesn’t even think of changing. There is no point in isolating this person. But by telling him he is clean, the Torah forces him to admit how low his spiritual condition has become. As hopeless as this may seem, Lev. 13:14 tells us that there is yet hope for one who repents. For “On the day healthy flesh appears in it, it shall be contaminated, it is tzara’at.” Isolation can be a wonderful thing. Consider why G-d took the Israelites through a desert instead of an oasis filled with beautiful waterfalls, plants and gourmet food. Consider why Yahshua was not physically attractive. Isolation from people or the environment tends to foster introspection or a willingness to listen to the task at hand. For example, if our faucet constantly drips, we may not notice it until we lay down to sleep. Then, the tiny drip, drip, drip sounds like Niagara Falls! We are to quiet ourselves and listen for that still, small voice. It was actually a whisper, or gentle blowing; Metatron: Yahshua! 1 Kings 19:11-13 reads, “So He said, “Go forth and stand on the mountain before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD was passing by! And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing.” Similarly in the desert, G-d planned for the people to focus on Him, serving Him, and loving Him. Most of them remained obstinate and continued to focus on selfish desires and their past lives that included quail, leeks, and such. I find it incredibly interesting that people are so easily obsessed with food and other externalizations of our physical universe. The plethora of reality cook shows, commercials about food, and beauty products provides sufficient evidence. Even more so, people who walked in the very presence of G-d and Yahshua, manifested as a pillar of fire and a cloud respectively failed to focus on the direct object of the sentence, if you will. Yahshua’s unattractive appearance was designed to draw people to His message, not His physique (Isaiah 53:2). His desire was and is for people to focus on Him, serve Him, and love Him in order to glorify Him and receive eternal salvation. Most will fail for the same reasons most failed in the desert. We are so easily distracted by the world around us that we mistakenly perceive as reality. As we are pulled into a black hole of spiritual depravity, we become clean. We get so contaminated, isolation no longer helps. Yet, Yahshua provides us the mental capacity to recognize our lost state, turn to Him and accept His sacrifice for our past sins and rejection of His Torah; indeed, YHVH/Yahshua himself. Like Mary and Joseph, we can be purified, but not through the sin sacrifice of doves or pigeons. Our purification is accomplished through the blood of the Lamb in its first year by way of a burnt offering that is a complete offering (Yahshua’s sacrifice). YHVH /Yahshua demands the same level of complete sacrifice of our humanity as He did of Mary and Joseph. Mary was required to die to self by allowing herself to be placed in a situation that could have brought death. Joseph had to accept that he was not the father of the Messiah; he had to place all of his trust and faith on the angel’s message and forget about manly pride. YHVH/Yahshua expects no less from us. He does not honor our efforts to overlay our current lifestyle with a religious façade. We have to kill our selfish, egotistical selves on a daily basis and make ourselves fit vessels for housing the ways of G-d.
Haftarah: 2 Kings 4:42-5:19
Our haftarah describes how a prophet miraculously cured an Aramite General of his tzara’at. The beginning of the passage briefly mentions one of the prophet Elisha’s miraculous accomplishments through the power of G-d. He received a mere twenty loaves of bread and a sack of grain. At Elisha’s insistence, this gift was shared among 100 men. The food was enough (surprise!) and there was more to spare.
Naaman, who was an Aramite general, contracted tzara’at. A young captive Israelite maid advised him saying “I wish my lord could go to the prophet in Shomron! He could heal his tzara’at. Acting on her suggestion, the king of Amran sent a message to the King of Israel telling him Naaman was on his way and that he was to cure him of his tzara’at. The king panicked, until Elisha sent him a message after he heard of the King tearing his clothes. Naaman was sent to Elisha and was advised to immerse himself seven times in the Jordan River. At first Naaman was outraged that Elisha would not come to him personally and wave his hands over the sore and call on the Name of G-d (what an ego!). Ironically, his servants had the right idea telling him that if Elisha had asked him to do something difficult, he would have done it, so why not follow simple directions? The root of the problem is a common one; one that cost ha satan his position and standing with G-d. It was pride. Naaman relents and does as Elisha told him. Only then was he immediately healed. What else does this teach us? Note that Naaman wanted to stay in one spot and have Elisha come to HIM. But, Naaman wound up going to the river instead. We must obey G-d’s commands out of love and awesome fear just as Naaman finally did according to Elisha’s command. Naaman had to go out to the water instead of Elisha coming to a stationary Naaman. As the previous Rosh Rebbe once said, “faith is action based on belief.” The formula is simple and cannot be altered.
Elisha refused any gifts from Naaman, and Naaman essentially converted. He promised Elisha that he would no longer serve any deity other than the One G-d. Elisha sent him on his way in peace.
B’rit Chadashah: Luke: 22-24; 5:12-16
We already addressed Luke 22:24 and its close relationship to the Sidra. Let’s move on to Verse 12-16 in Chapter 5; “Once, when Yahshua was in one of the towns, there came a man completely covered with tzara’at. On seeing Yahshua, he fell on his face and begged him, ‘Sir, if you are willing, you can make me clean. Is it not interesting that this man does not bargain with Yahshua and he doesn’t beg Yahshua to heal him. He doesn’t proceed to tell Yahshua of all the things he did in Yahshua’s Name or otherwise attempt to justify his lifestyle. Note that from our parashah reading, a man who was completely covered with tzara’at was declared clean because his spiritual state was so low. But this man, although completely covered, knows he is not clean. Furthermore, he is attempting to repent and recognizes Yahshua as the only One who can cure him. The man goes to Yahshua; Yahshua did not go to the man. He was simply in the town at the time. Consistent with Yahshua’s humility, he told the man not to broadcast what he had done for the man. Instead he tells the man, “as a testimony to the people, go straight to the Cohen and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moshe commanded”. Yahshua showed the people that the commands of HaShem are still in force. The healed man was to follow what was written in the Old Testament about offerings made through the Cohen. This would send a message to the religious establishment that the Messiah had come and was at work, doing what only the Messiah can do. Healing a leper, casting out a deaf, dumb, and blind demon were signs noted in 1st century Judaism that would identify the Messiah. Yahshua did not make a public spectacle of himself as the Messiah in the early part of his ministry because He knew the people expected a Messiah who would liberate Israel from Rome and rule in glory, not one who would die the death of a common criminal. Had everyone known he was the Messiah, they would have focused on making him king then and there, instead of what He was trying to teach. However, word got out about Yahshua and His healing the infirm, so “huge crowds would gather to listen and be healed of their sicknesses. However, he made a practice of withdrawing to remote places in order to pray.” Even Yahshua needed a break from healing the sick so he could draw on the strength of his Father.
This parashah is a stark reminder of what we are experiencing today more than ever. A healthcare system going bankrupt testifies to the diseases plaguing our world that never existed, both physical and spiritual, and the resurgence of those we thought were eradicated. What may have appeared to us as superficial infections that we took pride in eradicating are in fact uncleanliness that remains manifest in the deepest tissues of humanity. We must acknowledge our uncleanliness before YHVH/Yahshua and clean up our acts before the final curtain. We must never give up in our quest to ascend in our relationship with G-d. We shouldn’t need to be afflicted with tzara’at to realize we are unclean sinners who need to repent and keep watch on our hearts and minds on a daily basis. Furthermore, the lesson on tzara’at shows us that once we are purified, we can still become unclean. Tzara’at is an effective way to grab our attention before it is too late to be healed/saved. The sad truth is that the complications can be avoided with lifestyle changes, and in some cases medication. So it is with sin and our relationship to YHVH/Yahshua. The process of repentance and purification is ongoing due to our sinful nature. This is not to say those who are in the process of being saved will not experience disease or death. We know that G-d can and does use adversities in our lives for His glory. Sometimes that means we must totally surrender to His will, no matter the physical consequences. However, G-d gives wisdom to those who follow Him. We are then armed with discernment and common sense that helps us to make wise lifestyle choices as the Ruach HaKodesh guides us. We must come to a point where prayer, Torah study and selflessness dominate our lives, and this is accomplished through practice as instructed in Deuteronomy 6:4-11. Unfortunately, we can know for certain that sin and all its manifestations will not be eradicated by man. Only G-d can accomplish such a feat that will not occur until after the Millennial Reign. Only then, will the universe be set right and perfection established through our Kohen Gadol; Yahshua our Messiah; Messiah ben David.
Rabbi Tamah Davis-Hart