TORAH READING FOR 1 NISAN 5782 SHMITAH April 1-2, 2022
APRIL BIRTHDAYS, ANNIVERSARIES, AND SIGNIFICANT EVENTS
Mazal Tov – Mazal Bueno to all those celebrating a birthday, anniversary, or significant event during the Month of April. If we were together at Temple Kol Hamidbar, we would extend a Tallit over you, say a special prayer for you, and recite the following blessing (cf Num. 6:24-26):
- May the Eternal One bless you and protect you!
- May the Eternal One deal kindly and graciously with you!
- May the Eternal One bestow favor upon you and grant you peace!
KËIN YEHI RATZON (Let it be so!)
From Reform Judaism https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/tazria
Tazria (תַזְרִיעַ — Bearing Seed) – Leviticus 12:1−13:59
The Eternal One spoke to Moses, saying: “Speak to the Israelite people thus: When a woman at childbirth bears a male, she shall be impure seven days; she shall be impure as at the time of her condition of menstrual separation.” – Leviticus 12:1-2
- God describes the rituals of purification for a woman after childbirth. (12:1-8)
- God sets forth the methods for diagnosing and treating a variety of skin diseases, including tzara-at (a leprous affection), as well as those for purifying clothing. (13:1-59)
Ezekiel 45:16-25 [historic: Ezekiel 45:16-46:18]
From Reform Judaism https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/tazria
When a Hallway is Sacred: Priests and Purity
By: Cantor Jill Abramson
STRUGGLING WITH TORAH and REFLECTION
You can read this week’s full Torah Portion at https://www.sefaria.org/Leviticus.12.1-13.59
From “The Torah / A Women’s Commentary” edited by Dr. Tamara Cohn Eskenazi and Rabbi Andrea L. Weiss, Ph.D.
תזריע Tazria – Leviticus 12:1-13:59
Purity, Birth, and Illness by Elaine Goodfriend, pp.637-638
Parashat Tazria continues the theme of ritual purity that extends also to parashat M’tzora (Leviticus 14-15). While Leviticus 12 deals with the impurity of the woman who suffers from bleeding after childbirth, Leviticus 15 will concern women and men who experience other kinds of genital discharge, both normal and abnormal. The intervening passage, Leviticus 13-14, concerns tzaraat–certain growths on skin, fabric, or leather. Traditionally the term has been translated as “leprosy,” but in English “leprosy” nowadays refers to something other than the conditions that the Torah describes.
Parashat Tazria thus includes two different subjects: (1) the impurity from childbirth (Leviticus 12); and (2) the diagnosis of and regulations concerning skin, garments, and leather goods with certain kinds of surface eruptions (Leviticus 13). Common to both, however, is the Israelite notion that physical conditions can produce a pollution that affects not only the party affected but also the sanctuary–the abode of the divine Presence. Therefore, the individuals affected must not “touch any consecrated thing, nor enter the sanctuary” during prescribed periods (12:4). Being denied access to holiness extends to all whom the Torah considers impure (tamei). Certain sins also result in the pollution of Israel’s holy place (see, for example, 16:16, 19:24–25, 20:3).
The common denominator regarding all the physical conditions that produce impurity is their association with the nexus of life and death. Numbers 12 shows that the Israelites associated tzaraat with death: when Miriam is stricken with it, Aaron pleads, “Let her not be as a stillbirth [literally “a dead person”] which emerges from its mother’s womb with half its flesh eaten away!” (12:12). In the Torah, blood is synonymous with life (Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 17:14). Vaginal blood had an even greater significance for some of the ancients, who thought that it contained the seed that united with the male seed (semen) to produce a human being (Jacob Milgrom, Leviticus 1-16, 1991, pp. 744, 767, 950). As menstrual fluid, it signified a lost opportunity to create life, thus linked with the process of death. This applied as well to the person who suffered from scale disease.
The legislation in Leviticus 12 and its focus upon the menstruating woman have had an enormous impact upon the lives of Jewish women…. The view that women–via their normal, recurring bodily functions–generate a pollution antagonistic to holiness served as a justification for women’s distance from the sacred throughout Jewish history. Women were disqualified from the Israelite priesthood perhaps because of fear that the sudden onset of menstruation would result in the clash of impurity and holiness, with presumed dire consequences…. After the destruction of the Temple, which was the focus for the laws of ritual purity, women were often prevented from having contact with a Torah scroll, for example, because of the fear of giving affront to God by approaching in an impure state. The basis for many of the restrictions imposed upon the menstruant and the woman who gave birth was found not in Jewish law but rather in popular custom, which triumphed despite the objections of some rabbis. In addition to her participation in public religious life, the private life of the Jewish woman was affected: she and her husband were not allowed to engage in sexual relations during extensive periods of time, which greatly impacted her fertility and married life in general.
Another View – by Beth Alpert Nakhai, p. 650
Parashat Tazria contains one of the most puzzling, even disturbing, passages in Leviticus, a book concerned with holiness. Tazria challenges us, for it places childbirth among the sources of ritual impurity–from which one then needs purification (12:1–8)–and it reckons the birth of a daughter at twice the length of impurity as the birth of a son (12:2, 4–5). In Leviticus, the commandment of purification after childbirth is consistent with the priestly insistence that blood contains or represents the life force. The priestly authors of Leviticus believe that blood, whether menstrual or post-partum, is so powerful as a source of life that only purification rituals can allow those who come into contact with it to rejoin their community. These rituals serve to contain the life force that places contaminated people outside the normative community, by returning them to a state of purity in which they can reenter God’s holy community.
Regardless of whether a woman bears a son or a daughter, the rituals of purification are the same. Why, then must a woman spend twice as long in a state of impurity following the birth of a girl than following the birth of a boy? Traditional interpreters have assumed that this is because the birth of a girl creates a kind of double impurity, possibly because newborn girls contain the latent capacity for menstruation and reproduction. But another point is also important here: in ancient Israel, baby girls arguably faced lives filled with more risks than did baby boys. Israel was a society in which economic value accrued primarily to sons. They remained part of their fathers’ households even when they married, inherited their families’ ancestral lands, and cared for their aging parents. In contrast, there is evidence to suggest that girls were sometimes thought of as expendable. In times of need, famine, and war, baby girls might suffer hunger and neglect, or even be abandoned and left to die.
The priestly authors seem to be concerned about this situation and try to avert such tragedies by ensuring that baby girls stay in their mothers’ protective care for an extended period of time. This not only allows mother and daughter to bond tightly, but also ensures that the child is nursed and cared for. Thus, this troubling passage can be understood not as discrimination against women but as a way to promote God’s loving community–and to guarantee that women and men, both created in the divine image, are nurtured and protected.
ROSH CHODESH NISAN and PESACH
Begins at sundown this evening, Friday, April 1 and ends at sundown Saturday, April 2, 2022. Nisan is the first month of the Hebrew calendar. Pesach falls in Nisan. The 49-day period of Counting the ‘Ómer begins on the second night of Pesach and continues until Shavuot.
This year Pesach begins the evening of Friday, April 15. Most Reform Jews celebrate seven days as in Israel. Others observe eight days ending on Saturday, April 23, 2022. Please refer to the 3/31/22 email from Dr. Sam Caron, Congregational President, about member Harvey Ross, plus the plans for a Temple Kol Hamidbar community Seder at 6 PM on April 16. The email includes some details on the pending Seder as well as a Safe Gathering Policy. More information is forthcoming.
From “Mishkan T’filah / A Reform Siddur”:
ROSH CHODESH NISAN – R’TZËH insert p.174
OUR GOD and God of our fathers and mothers, on this first day of the new month be mindful of us and all Your people Israel, for good, for love, for compassion, life and peace. Remember us for wellbeing. Amen. Visit us with blessing. Amen. Help us to a fuller life. Amen.
FOR OUR COUNTRY p.516
THUS SAYS ADONAI, This is what I desire: to unlock the fetters of wickedness, and untie the cords of lawlessness; to let the oppressed go free, to break off every yoke. Share your bread with the hungry, and take the wretched poor into your home. When you see the naked, give clothing, and do not ignore your own kin.
O GUARDIAN of life and liberty, may our nation always merit Your protection. Teach us to give thanks for what we have by sharing it with those who are in need. Keep our eyes open to the wonders of creation, and alert to the care of the earth. May we never be lazy in the work of peace; may we honor those who have [served, suffered or] died in defense of our ideals. Grant our leaders wisdom and forbearance. May they govern with justice and compassion. Help us all to appreciate one another, and to respect the many ways that we may serve You. May our homes be safe from affliction and strife, and our country be sound in body and spirit. Amen.
We recite MI SHEBËRACH for the victims of abuse, brutality, conflicts, fear, natural disasters, pandemics, tragedies, violence of all kinds especially directed at individuals and specific communities including us, and war; for all those at home alone or lonely; for all those in need of physical, emotional, and mental healing. “R’fuah sh’lëmah” – a complete recovery!
We say KADDISH YATOM for those of our friends and families who have died and been buried this last week; those in the period of Sh’loshim (30 days since burial); those who have died in the last year; and those whose Yahrzeits/Anyos occur at this time; as well as the victims of brutality, conflict, disease, natural disasters, pandemics, tragedies, violence of all kinds, and war.
This coming week, 1 Nisan through 7 Nisan, we lovingly remember:
Mother of TKH member Elizabeth Bernstein
Those victims of the Sho’ah (Holocaust) who died at this time of year.
“ZICHRONAM LIV’RACHAH” – MAY THEIR MEMORIES BE FOR BLESSING.
TORAH STUDY AND SHAZOOM
We will meet as usual at the regular times for Torah Study and Shazoom this evening, Friday, April 1, 2022 (no fooling!)
Zoom regularly updates its security and performance features. Making sure you have the latest version of Zoom, please join us online this Friday evening with wine/grape juice for Kiddush and Challah for Motzi.
Topic: Torah Study – Tazria (triennial part) Lev 13:29-59
Time: April 1, 2022 06:00 PM Arizona
Shazoom – Erev Shabbat Service
Time: April 1, 2022 07:30 PM Arizona
To join Torah Study and/or Shazoom click on the following link [you may need to copy it into your browser]: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/72510500854?pwd=Z3VQZWF4U1BBZytNYmh3aHFTWkFDZz09
Meeting ID: 725 1050 0854
Hint: The last character of the password is the number zero.
Shabbat Shalom – Buen Shabbat!