Tazria – Jewish Birth Rights
Tazria – Jewish Birth Rights
And G-d spoke to Moshe saying. Speak to Benai Yisrael saying, when a women gives birth and bears a boy she is impure for seven days as the days of her niddah she is impure. On the eighth day he should have the flesh of his foreskin removed. And for 33 days she should sit in her blood of purity, She may not touch anything which is holy and to the holy place she may not enter until the days of her purity are over.
Many archeologists have noticed that ancient religions of Canaan have birth rights. These ancient religions did much more than just giving a box of chocolates to the new mother. Entire cults surrounded mysterious pagan gods who ruled over reproduction. A new mother might have been considered close to the god who had been instrumental in her bearing a child. Such women might be brought to the local temple dedicated to the goddess Anath or perhaps to Ashtarte – Ashtarte.
The new born child might be ritually passed through a fire as a dedication to the Molech. All this and much more were practices of the non-Jewish residents of Canaan and the whole Middle East. These pagan beliefs were active in connection to anything to do with reproduction. They designated special powers to seed, menstruation and birth.
The birth of a child was considered to have been assisted by certain gods or spirits. A favorite goddess was Ashera. This would arouse opposing gods and spirits who seek vengeance against their enemy. An opposing god might be Mot.
The mother and the baby alike required special magical protection from these demons. Appeasements of the gods or the demons might be required. Some might ask for protection from the deity who had been instrumental in bringing the child to its birth. If a daughter was born she would need even more protection. The reason for this is that a baby girl herself can potentially have her own children.
Needless to say all of this is totally unacceptable to the Jews who follow the monotheistic teaching of the Torah. Some might wrongly claim that our Perasha is proof that the Torah teaches us that such stupid beliefs are embraced by the Torah.
To begin with our Perasha starts out by totally excluding a woman from the Biet Hamikdash. For a period of 40 days after the birth of a boy and 60 days following the more powerful female birth the new mother may not even enter. This is a purification for the temple which excludes such pagan beliefs from walking in. After this time period has finished a woman may only enter the Beit Hamikdash after she brings a sin offering. Only after this long period has been completed can she participate in other Jewish rituals.
This whole process demonstrates opposition to polytheistic rituals. These rituals can be seen in Ugaritic mythology. The Ugurits immediately predate Avraham Avinu. They had a special affinity for fertility. Their fertility cults would have celebrations in front of idols which represented their gods and goddesses. They would demonstrate human procreation and the drama of giving birth at these celebrations.
This is totally rejected by the Torah. Since we believe that only G-d is the source of every blessing in the world. G-d is not ruled by natural processes, demons or anything else. Such ideas were the most revolutionary of the time.