Updated: Apr 8, 2019
Parshas Tazria-Metzora - Wayyiqra/Leviticus 12:1 - 15:33
This week, Wayyiqra (Leviticus) dives back into the procedures and how-to's. Here we get into the nitty-gritty details of tumah and taharah, the unclean and the clean.
Parsha Tazria-Metzora tells us what makes a person unclean, and then gives detailed instructions for how the unclean can become clean again.
Unclean or Impure?
First off, let’s start with the definitions of tumah and taharah. These are two Hebrew words that can’t be translated accurately into English. The closest we have is unclean and clean, or impure and pure.
The problem is that the words 'unclean' and 'impure' have the connotation of being physically 'dirty' or 'contaminated' and draw forth feelings of disdain or scorn. It’s these implications that make us question the chapter about childbirth. How can a woman be ‘unclean’ just because she gave birth?
The truth is tamey (unclean) and tahor (clean) are distinctly spiritual states - not physical. Even though certain physical actions can cause a person to become tamey, the tumah (uncleanness) is on the spiritual level, not the physical.
A person can roll around in the dirt all day and still not be tamey. He could be covered in dirt from head to toe and will still be tahor (clean). However, a pristinely clean person can become tamey (unclean) just by eating dinner - a pork chop, for example.
That’s why clean/unclean and pure/impure aren’t the best translations.
Tamey and tahor are distinctly spiritual states that have no connection with physical cleanliness.
So, as much as possible, we will try to use the Hebrew words.
Exactly why some things are tumah and other things aren't is above the rationale of man. YAH gave no reason as to why, He simply said that's the way things are. We can speculate why (as many have), but ultimately these are laws that are beyond our reasoning capabilities. We simply have to do and obey (Shem/Ex. 24:7).
Two Types of Tumah
Secondly, there are generally two types of tumah (uncleanness). There is tumah caused by our sins, and then there is tumah that is caused by natural occurrences.
A person afflicted with tzara’at (leprosy) usually had done something wrong (like speaking badly about someone), and the tzara’at was a result of his actions. Therefore, his actions made him unclean.
However, for a woman, she could become tamey (unclean) just by being a woman - through childbirth or menstruation.
So a person could become tamey by sin or by certain natural occurrences.
Consequence of Tumah
Thirdly, even though a sin could result in tumah, being tamey is not a sin in and of itself.
For example, if a person lost a loved one and became tamey in the process of making funeral arrangements and such, there is no sin in remaining tamey. He could choose to remain in that state indefinitely if he so desired. And so many, many people do.
So, what then is the real problem with being tamey?
A person who is tamey (unclean) cannot enter the Presence of Elohim.
In Scriptural times, a tamey person could not enter any part of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) or the Mikdash (Set-Apart Place). This meant that he could not bring his offering, and therefore, he could not draw close to YAHUAH.
That is the lesson to be learned in these chapters. Last week, we saw Nadab and Abihu die before Elohim. This week, we see what would cause the same outcome for others - being unclean and coming before YAH.
Wayyira/Leviticus 15:31 - "Thus you shall separate the children of Yisra’el from their uncleanness, lest they die in their uncleanness when they defile My Dwelling Place which is in their midst."
We see in these chapters how we shouldn’t come before YAH, and we learn what to do to change our status from tamey to tahor so we can come before Him.
Becoming tahor (clean) so we can come before YAHUAH applies to His set-apart dwelling place and for our lives in general.
Here at Family of Messiah, we have set apart a place for YAHUAH. It is a place for His Name to dwell, a place where we come before Him to make offerings of praise and thanksgiving, a place where He meets with His people.
If His Presence is here, then we must be extremely careful with how we enter His Presence. We cannot come before YAHUAH unclean. We cannot defile His set-apart place.
Surely, there are times in the Assembly when we experience His Presence greater than at other times. Perhaps, this is because those are the times when everyone is tahor, in a state of purity. Tumah (uncleanness) in the set-apart place affects all.
We also want to experience the Presence of YAH in our everyday lives. If we are tamey (unclean), He cannot draw near to us (even if it’s tumah from a natural occurrence), but if we are tahor (clean), then He can draw near.
When YAHUAH is with us, our lives are on an elevated spiritual level, and we experience His peace, joy, protection, security, provision, healing, etc.
YAHUAH’s Presence also brings kedusha (set-apartness). If we’re struggling in certain areas of our life, then we may need to cleanse our self.
When we cleanse, we remove the tumah (uncleanness) and allow room for His kedusha - the set-apartness that comes with His Presence. This set-apartness from Above helps us to become more set-apart in our daily life.
So, if we take the steps to keep ourselves from becoming tamey, and if we take the proper steps to cleanse our self if we do become tamey, then we can draw closer and closer to YAHUAH. Then, we can reconnect - or stay connected - to our Source of Life and blessings.
Just to recap, here are the sources of tumah:
Contact with unclean animals (eating them or touching their dead carcass) (Wayy. 11)
Childbirth (Wayy. 12)
Tzaraat (leprosy) on a person (or in his clothes) (Wayy. 13:1 - 14:32)
Tzaraat (leprosy) in a house (wayy. 14:3357)
Abnormal discharge (males) (Wayy. 15:1-15)
Normal emission of semen (Wayy. 15:16-18)
Normal menstrual flow (Wayy. 15:19-24)
Abnormal menstrual flow (Wayy. 15:25-30)
[Contact with the dead (Bem/Num. 19)]
If any of these apply to you, reread that section of Torah and find out how to cleanse yourself and become tahor again.
Being ever mindful of our spiritual state will allow us to continually grow spiritually and to draw ever closer to our Molder and Maker, our Father in Heaven - YAHUAH, the Set-Apart Compassionate One.
** If you need to consult with a spiritual doctor - a priest - call us at (843)821-4832.