Apr 12, 2015

וַיְדַבֵּר יְהֹוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר׃

Hashem spoke to Moshe, saying:

Leviticus 12:1

וְאִם־לֹא תִמְצָא יָדָהּ דֵּי שֶׂה וְלָקְחָה שְׁתֵּי־תֹרִים אוֹ שְׁנֵי בְּנֵי יוֹנָה אֶחָד לְעֹלָה וְאֶחָד לְחַטָּאת וְכִפֶּר עָלֶיהָ הַכֹּהֵן וְטָהֵרָה׃

If, however, her means do not suffice for a sheep, she shall take two turtledoves or two pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering. The Kohen shall make expiation on her behalf, and she shall be clean.

Leviticus 12:8

After discussing which animals are Kosher for consumption in last week’s portion, the Torah Moves on to several cases of ritual impurity. These situations render a person unable to participate in holy rituals, such as attending or partaking of the sacrificial services. The Torah identifies what contaminates a person and how they can be purified.


The first circumstances of these is childbirth. A woman who conceives and delivers a male child is impure for seven days. On the eighth day the child is circumcised, in accordance with the command God gave to Abraham in Genesis 17. The mother waits another 33 days, during which she is considered otherwise pure but cannot enter the Sanctuary or touch anything holy, after which she brings a yearling sheep as a burnt offering and a young pigeon or turtledove as a sin offering. If she cannot afford the sheep, she brings two birds. After this, she is purified. Should the mother conceive and deliver a female child, the waiting periods are doubled: fourteen days of impurity and 66 days of partial purity.


As the Israel Bible points out, circumcision serves as a constant reminder of God’s covenant with Abraham and His promise to give the Land of Israel to his descendants.


Virtual Classroom Discussion

Why do you think the waiting periods for purification are different for baby boys and girls?

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