Remembering Our Origins by Avi Shteingart


The beginning of this week’s Parsha discusses the laws of טומאה and טהרה, purity and impurity.  The impurity of a mother after giving birth is particularly perplexing. 

Giving birth is a blessing as well as a commandment in the Torah.  Hashem commanded Adam and Noach (twice) to be fruitful and multiply.  Why should a mother be declared unclean for fulfilling a Mitzva?  Why must she offer a Korban Chatat?

The Abarbanel suggests an answer to this problem.  He says that in order for a mother to honor Hashem after He caused her pain and suffering she should go to the Bait Hamikdash and give a Korban.  However, the Abarbanel’s idea does not explain why a Chatat, and not any other Korban, is given.

The Midrashim give several different approaches.  Rabbi Levi says that Hashem caused great miracles for the parents.  He gives an example of a man who turns a purse upside down, releasing coins.  However, the mother’s womb is held upside down and miraculously the baby remains inside.  Hashem preserves the baby because, unlike animals, the embryo is upright and Hashem makes sure that it does not fall out. 

Another Midrash discusses how the baby comes from a dirty place, just like marble and beautiful wooden furniture.  One should remember where the baby comes from inside the mother, and she must also remember that her child comes from Hashem.  Therefore, she must go to the sanctuary where Hashem dwells.

We can learn a very important lesson from this:  we must remember where we came from and never forget Hashem.  In Parshat Kedoshim, Rabbi Hirsch comments that when the Torah says, “You shall fear Me, Hashem” after each commandment we should learn that one should not feel that he is being judged by his fellow man or a human judge; rather, he should feel that Hashem is constantly watching him and He is the Judge.

The Great Shabbat by Rabbi Joel Grossman

God, Woman, and Man by David Gertler