Born This Way: Tazria 2022

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: Why are there so many new ceremonies to mark expected childbirth? How do online pregnancy announcements, gender-reveal parties, and increasingly elaborate baby showers add (or, perhaps, detract) to our commemoration of new human life?

Our Torah portion’s interest is not so much in the lead-up to the birth, but of the parents’ experience immediately after the birth:

The Pitch: “The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the Israelite people thus: When a woman at childbirth …” – Leviticus 12:1-2a

Swing #1: “The Hebrew phrase that opens and names this parasha … literally means ‘bears seed and gives birth.’ The word tazria is used in reference to a male child only, not a female. For only a male child will one day ‘seed’ a child himself.” – Ellen Frankel, Ph. D., The Five Books of Miriam

Swing #2: “This text is related [to Job 29:2]: ‘O that I were as in the months of old, as in the days when God watched over me!’ In regard to this verse, Job spoke it when the afflictions had come upon them. He said: ‘O that I were, and would that I had the days which I had when I was in my mother’s belly! These words teach that the infant is watched over while it is in its mother’s belly.” – Midrash Tanhuma Buber

Swing #3: “Rabbi Simlai said: as the creation of man was after all domestic and wild animals and birds were created in the six days of creation, so his laws were explained after the laws of domestic and wild animals and birds.” – Ohev Yisrael

Late-Inning Questions: How do our commentators understand the significance of childbirth? Is it significant that the text focuses more on the parents’ experience post-childbirth than the child’s experience? Does our society focus enough on the needs of its mothers?

On-Deck at TBT: We look forward to another Passover drive-up event on Sunday, April 10th. Bring us some food for donations and we’ll give you a bag filled with Passover goodies! Click here for more details.

The Big Inning at the End: Speaking of births, MLB has done a better job in recent years excusing players – and accommodating their teams – when births take place during the season. The players’ time off is still minimal, but it’s better than nothing. If only more places of business provided paid parental leave …

Shabbat Shalom!