Childbirth

Leviticus 12:1-8

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?

Comments ( 17 )

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  • Pauline Graham

    Hi, not having had any children, I find this interesting about the female babies bleeding due to hormones. Also if the male children had to be confined as long, they couldn't be circumcised. The clotting factor kicks in at day 8. Also the mother has spent 9months carrying the child, then giving birth, sometimes hard and can have injuries, no wonder Yehovah who knows us better than we know ourselves, had given plenty of time for the woman's body to heal, rest and to be pampered by her family. XX

  • I have mulled over this matter for several days now and studied out the meaning of the number 40- trials, testing, etc. and read all of the responses given here as well as all of the traditional commentary I have access to, but I can’t settle into any one particular understanding of this matter.
    *
    I’ve given birth to both a son and a daughter and I can assure you there’s not anything that happened differently with either birth (other than, the second one was much faster – my daughter). I also didn’t see any bleeding from her so I don’t know where that came from either.
    *
    Like Theresa, as a woman, I’ve always felt like women were somehow being devalued, but I think that’s more of a cultural thing than actually being in the Scriptures.
    *
    Perhaps Elohim will reveal more about this when it suits HIM to do so.
    Baruch Hashem.

    • Leslie

      The difference in days is mystical and scientific
      I’m not a rabbi but heard a lecture on the difference between a male and female soul and it’s development in the womb and it’s effect on the mom
      So it’s not discriminators but mystical
      Now you can ask an expert !

  • A difficult question for me …. The 40 days of purification of a mother and her female baby have to do with the bleedingperiod. The mother is tamei (unclean) as long as there’s a bleeding (the first 7 days), the baby drinking from her is also tamei. After the miqwe, (when the mother stopped bleeding) she is clean again. Then follow the 33 days of separation. That means that she does not touch pure (ritual) objects. After these 33 days she is clean again, but then the time of 40 days of cleansing of the female baby starts. Mother and baby stay in separation during this period.
    A boys birth does mean a tamei period of 7 days. The 8th day is the milah. The mother should stay in separation for the next 33 days in a kind of partial state of contamination.

  • Danielle, I think I’ve heard something close to what you’re saying before; the baby girl bleeds within those days, hence the mother does double purification, both for herself and her daughter.

  • Danielle Reisman

    The traditional answer is that for a girl, the mother waits double because she’s waiting once for herself and once for the baby. It is common for baby girls to experience bleeding in the first couple days after birth due to mother’s hormones.

  • Sheila

    Male babies. —- circumcision was the sign of the covernant God made with Abraham——Gen.17:10-11.This cutting away of the foreskin was performed on the eighth day after the birth of the male child. This spoke of the cutting away of fleshly dependence as God declared his people to be holy people set apart unto Him. Female babies —– thinking that the woman was first tempted into breaking God’s law through deception and therefore transgressed resulting in the curse of sin and the pain of childbirth. Could the culture of the day affect the Israelites where a woman should be entirely subordinate to a man. Instead of a helper to him?

  • Theresa

    Still thinking on why the large time difference between the baby boy and girl. I always was a little taken back and felt that women were of less value. Now I am thinking being “Unclean” means rest. Getting to rest and just spend time with a daughter, to enjoy her, may be a blessing instead.

    • Danielle Reisman

      That is a beautiful way to look at it Theresa! It even opened my eyes.

  • Kenneth Osterman

    In each case, the total waiting period is a multiple of 40 days. 40 days is likely significant of itself.
    .
    For the male birth – 7+33=40
    For the female birth – 14+66=80
    .
    I appreciate the thoughts of the others and “why” is very interesting.

    • Diana Brown

      When you talk of numbers, it always points to the Messiah. The Torah, the Prophets and the Writings are all about how Israel will bring the Word and Light to the Nations and the Messiah to the world. First through their rejection of Him and then when they look upon Him as Joseph’s brothers looked upon him, Israel will find Him Faithful to the God they serve and they will see His Love for them. So, the woman is cleansed to prepare to bring in the Messiah and so is the daughter. That is not a denigration of women, that is an honor. Genesis 3:15 is the first Messianic Prophecy. Through the seed of a woman is a promise to all that the Messiah will come to restore all things under Himself and then take all things and Himself back to God.

      • Ken

        I really like your thought: …the woman is cleansed to prepare to bring in the Messiah and so is the daughter. That is not a denigration of women, that is an honor.

      • Diana, thanks for your thoughts, but I am a little confused on the woman and her daughter representative of bringing in the Mashiach; does that meant the number 80 (days) for hers and her daughter’s purification stands for this?

    • Danielle Reisman

      That is a great observation Kenneth 40 is a very significant number:
      40 days Moses spent on Mount Sinai
      40 days of rain when Noah was in the ark
      40 years the jews wandered the desert

  • Theresa

    The baby boy needs to be circumcised on the 8th day, a girl does not so 16 days makes sense. When a hospital does a non-Jewish circumcision on a newborn, normally 1 day old, they give the baby vitamin K supplement to help the blood clot. Science has found that vitamin K reaches its highest level in the baby’s blood the 8th day after birth and then declines. He does not need to be given any supplements. The Creator’s design and plan for us is perfect.

    • Diana Brown

      I agree with Theresa on her thoughts. I also wonder if the woman’s seed is considered in the waiting period for her. She holds the promise of generations in her womb. The body, after chlldbirth, resets itself to give life again.

      • Ken Mathews

        I am inclined to agree with Theresa and Diana. Deuteronomy 10:12And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God by walking in all His ways, to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13and to keep the commandments and statutes of the LORD, which I am giving you this day FOR YOUR OWN GOOD?

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