This portion continues to list Commandments related to maintaining the cleanliness and holiness highlighted in Shemini. Tazria is translated as “conceives”, but literally means “shall seed”.
“A woman who shall conceive and give birth (…)” (Leviticus 12:2)
In the context of cleanliness, the following words refer to the care that a woman must have to maintain her purity after giving birth. This reflects how essential cleanliness is related to the act of conception in the woman’s womb.
Our sages tell us (Talmud, Niddah 31a) that in conception, man and woman provide certain physiological traits for the fetus and God gives him/her the spirit and the breath, physical beauty, eyesight, hearing, speech, ability to walk, understanding and discernment which He takes back to Him after death.
From this we learn that God’s gifts to human life are primordially related to our ability to follow His ways and attributes. God’s spirit and breath are written together, because as emanations from God’s love both keep us alive every second. As we mentioned, life is a gift from God’s love and it is constantly sustained and nurtured by Him.
Physical beauty, as relative as it is (“in the eye of the beholder”), is the reflection of the love we bear and manifest in all our levels of consciousness, including speech and actions. Also our sight and hearing are channels through which we connect our awareness of God’s love. Thus what we see and hear are “filtered” by love’s ways and attributes. Likewise speech is one of the vessels of love as well as every deed and action we do.
All these divine gifts are preceded by our understanding and discerning love’s ways and attributes. Our sages remind us that these gifts are taken back by God after we die, therefore we have to use them in our lives in this world in order to honor His ways and attributes.
After mentioning conception, the text refers to the covenant between God and Israel.
“On the eight day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.” (Leviticus 12:3)
Our sages remark in extensive commentaries this transcendental bond between the Creator and us, which is our constant awareness of His love in our consciousness by cutting off what is unnecessary in our lives. After this the portion refers to a skin condition that according to our sages is the consequence of evil talk.
“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)
When we hear evil or negative talk, ego is the one who speaks. Ego’s expressions in every form, either thought, speech, emotion, feeling or action, make us separate ourselves from the oneness of God and His creation. This separation “shows up” in what the verse calls “leprosy”, and the consequence of this is separation from the community. In order to recover from this condition the person affected by it has to consult with the high priest, the one who is in constant connection with God. Aaron represents our higher consciousness always aware of love as our true essence and identity.
When we judge or criticize negatively we separate from our true essence and identity. This separation becomes our punishment. The sin becomes its own punishment, and our sages also insist that negative talk is potentially fatal because it kills the character of the speaker, the listener, and the one who is spoken about.
Let’s be aware that maintaining a permanent consciousness of love as our essence and identity is the only cure against all evils, pains and miseries, including negative talk.