Impure Discharges

Apr 12, 2015

וַיְדַבֵּר יְהֹוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה וְאֶל־אַהֲרֹן לֵאמֹר׃

Hashem spoke to Moshe and Aharon, saying:

Leviticus 15:1

וְהַדָּוָה בְּנִדָּתָהּ וְהַזָּב אֶת־זוֹבוֹ לַזָּכָר וְלַנְּקֵבָה וּלְאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר יִשְׁכַּב עִם־טְמֵאָה׃

and concerning her who is in menstrual infirmity, and concerning anyone, male or female, who has a discharge, and concerning a man who lies with an unclean woman.

Leviticus 15:33

This chapter outlines the various bodily discharges a person may experience which render them impure. Not only is the person who experiences the discharge affected, but also anyone who touches him or her or anything the affected person has come in contact with. Those contaminated by contact, however, are impure to a lesser degree, requiring only immersion and waiting till evening to be purified.


Routine discharges require immersion but not a sacrifice. A man who experiences a seminal discharge, and the woman with whom he is intimate at the time, is contaminated until that evening. Both must immerse in water to become purified. A menstruating woman is contaminated for seven days before she may immerse. She may not be intimate with a man during this time, but if she is, the man, too, is contaminated for seven days.


Unusual discharges have more serious purification requirements. Anyone, man or woman, who experiences an unusual discharge becomes impure, and anything he or she touches becomes contaminated. He or she must wait seven days after the discharge ceases to immerse himself or herself and his or her garments in water. On the eighth day, he or she brings two pigeons or turtledoves as a sin offering and burnt offering respectively.


As the Israel Bible points out, it is no coincidence that immersion in water is required in the purification process. As the source of life, it is appropriate that water be a part of this spiritual renewal and rebirth. As well, water’s fluid nature reminds us that our spiritual state is not fixed, either. Rather, each of us has ups and downs, and there is always room for growth.


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