Kenneth Cohen

Giving Birth

This week, we read of the details involving the purification process of the יולדת, the woman who gives birth. There is a period of separation until she regains her strength, both physically and spiritually.

Part of this process, is the קרבן יולדת, the sacrifice offered by the new mother. It is a bird offering for her required חטאת, sin offering.

The Torah tells us that she may bring a בן יונה, turtle dove, or a תור, translated as a young dove. The Baal Haturim makes a fascinating observation about these birds.

He notes that everywhere in the Torah where these two birds are mentioned, the תור always comes before the בן יונה, except for here.

He explains further that the תור shows loyalty to its mate. Once it has mated with a specific male, it will no longer mate again. The יונה, on the other hand, will mate again in the future.

Loyalty is something to be admired, even in birds. Yet, the world must continue, and it is not good for man to be alone. The Baal Haturim noticed this change in order, and felt there was a message here. He must have seen that the refusal of the תור to mate again, was not necessarily a good trait.

Ideally, we stay with our beloved spouses throughout our lives. But if tragedy occurs, or the marriage fails, we must try again.

The יולדת must not become despondent because of the ordeal of birth. She must regain her strength and determination to bring more children into the world. The sin offering is to atone for things she may have said while going through her painful labor.

Hopefully, she will regret what she said and continue in the way of the יונה, to procreate and bring more G-d fearing Jews into the world.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at