This week’s Torah portion is a double portion and continuing in the format used for other double portions the Dvar for this week will follow the split 7 inch record format where each chapter gets its own track. So here you have it folks Circle Pit The Bimah Split EP Vol. 2.
Parsha Tazri (Leviticus 12:1 – 13:59)
1. Of Babies and Women.
This week’s double shot of Torah begins with what a girl has to do in order to be deemed ritually clean after giving birth and then quickly moves on to discuss, once again, the rite of circumcision. When all is said and done I think us guys made out like bandits, I can’t remember my circumcision but my mom definitely remembers carrying and giving birth to me.
2. Desert Zombies From You Know Where.
Towards the end of the twentieth century I was a lowly high school senior trying to learn a little espanol. One day in class I turn in my seat towards my friend who was sitting on the other side of the room and in a very matter of fact way pointed out that because he was not circumcised he was unclean. Not only did that statement earn me a one way ticket to the Vice Principle’s office I was also assigned a personal escort, she was a cute girl named Tara. After sitting in the teacher’s lounge for a couple periods the Vice Principle came out and read the teacher’s note describing my concerns for my gentile friends Biblical status of uncleanliness. He looked at me and I just looked back like I truly did not know making that proclamation was not appropriate for a Spanish class in a public high school. He totally bought my defense, apologized for keeping me for two full periods and sent me on my way. The I don’t know any better excuse does not work in the world of Judaism because we have all the does and do not’s laid out for us in Torah and Tazri is a perfect example of this.
Parsha Metzora (Leviticus 14:1 – 15:33)
1. Calling Doctor Aaron
If that skin crawling feeling is your thing then Metzora is the portion for you…literally. In Metzora Aaron and the priests are given an additional task. This task by today’s standards is akin to dermatology. It was the duty of the priests to examine skin conditions and then declare the afflicted clean or unclean. The unclean verdict resulted in the sufferer exiling themselves for one full week and on the seventh day a follow exam would take place and a new judgment would be given. As someone whose skin is extremely allergic to poison ivy exiling yourself actually eases some of the discomfort, go figure.
2. Dirty Words
Metzora finishes with a discussion about certain states of sexual dirtiness. For women the seven days concluding their monthly menstrual cycle are deemed unclean and women are told to refrain from sex and to withdraw from society until a new cycle begins. Since us men do not have periods our uncleanliness can happen at any time we are told to clean ourselves of any spilled seed. Some may say this is a good example of sexism in the Torah and I can kind of see where that point of view comes from on the other hand I am not a big fan of blood but I am a big fan of taking showers. I don’t know, what do you all think?
Jeremiah@punktorah.org Twitter: @circlepitbimah