This week’s portion teaches us about purity before our Creator. “Speak unto the children of Israel, saying: If a woman conceives (tazria), and gives birth to a male, she shall be unclean seven days; as in the separation (nidah) days of her period shall she be unclean.” (Leviticus 12:2) and it starts from the moment that we are born. Our Sages say that a new born is delivered by his/her mother in a state of impurity because she suffers during the process.
With this we understand that life must start with a much better beginning. Life is not perfect as long as we have to choose between right and wrong, true and false, positive and negative, amid the ambiguities of illusion and Truth. We can rephrase this thought saying that life is perfect as long as we choose the Truth represented by Love’s ways and attributes over ego’s materialistic fantasies and illusions. In this context purity is related to what the Creator wants from us in order to be united with Him.
The Torah frequently mentions that we must be holy because God is holy, and we infer from this that we are holy because we are part of His Creation. Then we must reach out to Him, to His ways and attributes, for us to know the Essence of our true identity which is His Love, the purity of what makes us holy before Him. The first verse of this portion is followed by “And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.” (12:3) referring to the new born with the purpose to seal in the flesh the Pact between Israel and the Creator.
For the Jewish people this is the true beginning of life in the material world. The Pact is the beginning of life by removing what is not needed to be carried in our consciousness: the “foreskin” as the attachment to the potentially negative aspects of our basic human nature. Circumcision becomes our unconditional and even unconscious response to the alliance that God’s Love gives us to fulfill the partnership that He offers us in His Creation. We call it even unconscious because we accept the Pact when we still are not completely aware of our existence in this world. Hence it is a Pact beyond comprehension, beyond the material manifestation of God’s Creation represented by the eight day of life.
This Pact is the fulfillment of the eternal unity of Israel and the Creator, a unity that can’t be grasped and at the same time is a reminder in our flesh of our commitment to fulfill His ways with the holiness that He wants us to be aware of who we truly are. We have to understand holiness as a practical perception of God’s Love in our lives where His ways and attributes must direct every aspect and dimension of consciousness.
It is in this day-to-day reality that we have to be loyal, to be pure with His ways and thus we are warned again not to fall into negative traits that force our separation from Him: “When a man shall have in the skin of his flesh a rising, or a scab, or a bright spot, and it become in the skin of his flesh the plague of leprosy, then he shall be brought unto Aaron the priest (…)” (13:2). Our Sages (Talmud, Arachin 15b and 16a) refer to what has been translated as “leprosy” as a sign of negative behavior such as arrogance, murder, perjury, slander, sexual immorality, stinginess, and robbery, analogous to the seven nations that Israel had to conquer in order to settle in the Promised Land.
These, as well as any other negative expression of human consciousness, separate us from Love’s ways and attributes: “All the days wherein the plague is in him he shall be unclean; he is unclean; [therefore] he shall dwell alone; without [outside] the camp shall his dwelling be.” (13:46) and in order to return to God’s ways we must transform all expressions of negativity through His fire, His transmuting Love, into goodness: “And he shall burn the garment, or the warp, or the woof, whether it be of wool or of linen, or anything of skin, wherein the plague is; for it is a malignant leprosy; it shall be burnt in the fire.” (13:52).
As we mentioned above, nothing is perfect in the material world except the Essence with which it was created, God’s Love. Through Love we are able to transform and transmute the imperfections that we perceive as negativity in what we call pain, suffering, depression, sadness, indifference, and so on. As long as we let Love lead every aspect of our life, only Love will be because Love is its cause and its effect.