Parasha Tazria begins with the laws of ritual impurity and purity as it pertains to childbirth. A new mother is treated as a niddah (a woman on her cycle) and is considered “impure” (tamei) and not allowed in the sanctuary for 40 days (if a boy) or 80 days (if a girl). On the 8th day, a boy must be circumcised, and once the woman is considered clean, she must bring a year-old sheep as a burnt offering and a dove for a sin offering (if she is poor, two doves suffice for both offerings).
If someone was diagnosed with tzara’at (“skin diseases”), they were forced to leave all three of the camps of the Jewish people.
- The camp of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) itself,
- The camp of the Levites (and Priests),
- The camp of all the other Chosen People tribes (in the time of the Temple, the metzora (“Diseased/Leprous Ones”) had to leave all the walled cities of Israel). This was a state of total banishment or exclusion.
Adonai’s instructions on this matter were specific and were expected to be followed if you hoped to re-enter the camp after having tzara’at (leprosy or skin diseases). If you had a skin disease, you had to remain outside the camp, in order to prevent others from being contaminated. You were required to yell out “unclean, unclean!” to warn others not to approach you. When an unclean person came in contact with a clean person, the clean person was no longer clean. For leprosy, a priest would put his hands on you during the cleansing and purification process only when he was certain you had been healed.
The Scriptures include several stories of encounters with lepers. For example, in Matthew 8, a crowd gathered around Yeshua and a leper knelt before Him saying, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean”. Messiah stretched out His hand, touched the leper and said, “I am willing, be clean”. Immediately, the leper was cleansed. The significance of this event is that Yeshua touched the leper when nobody else would; nor did He become unclean; but rather the leper became clean!
Brothers and Sisters, when Yeshua spent time with sinners, He never became tainted with sin. His health and purity were greater than their sin and sickness!
We may not have His same abilities, but we do have a calling and a commandment from the Lord to spread the Good News, which means we will be among sinners, but we must not participate in sin. This is the challenge for us – to bring salt and light to those outside our midst, but not to let the darkness from outside come into our lives, or to lose our distinctive flavor as those following Messiah. 2Kings 7:3-20 describes four leprous men sitting at the gate of Samaria during a famine. Because they were lepers, they were not allowed into the city. The people in the city were starving to death because they were under siege by the Syrians. The lepers took their chances and went to the Syrian camp hoping to find food. When they arrived there, they were astonished to find only animals, horses, donkeys and food, but no soldiers. God had miraculously sent the soldiers fleeing. The four lepers ate some food and hid some treasure. But quickly they realized that they could not keep this to themselves so long as people in the city were starving to death.
Brothers and sisters, they had good news to share! So they informed the gatekeeper. The Samaritans gathered the food from the Syrian camp and were delivered.
We are very much like those lepers trapped outside the city of Samaria. Our only hope of redemption is the death and resurrection of Yeshua and His choosing us to do His work. That is what sets us free from the leprosy of our sin and condemnation. The four lepers had a very important choice to make. They discovered extremely good news and they did not keep it to themselves, but told others. In the same way, God commands us to spread the Good News (even if people regard us like lepers). Brothers and sisters, the Lord delights to use unlikely people to accomplish His purposes.
In Matthew 9:20-22, a woman who had been bleeding for 12 years, who was in a crowd, touched the fringe of Yeshua’s garment. This woman would have been considered unclean, yet her faith was strong enough to motivate her to approach Yeshua. Messiah turned and said, “Take heart daughter, your faith has made you well”. He did not become unclean by her touch. Instead, instantly this woman was healed! Yeshua went outside the camp to cleanse these people and bring them back inside the camp. Thank the LORD God of Israel! The Lord Yeshua visits and heals us outside the camp! When Yeshua touched the leper and the woman touched the hem of his garment, these unclean individuals were in contact with the very presence of God (tabernacle/temple) in the Tenach.
Yeshua’s response on both occasions indicates that with His presence, with the presence of God incarnate in a human body, a change has occurred.
The presence of Elohim was no longer confined to a special hill in Jerusalem, but stood in the midst of the people.
Yeshua did not become unclean in having contact with the unclean. With the coming of Yeshua, something greater than the Temple and the laws of the Torah was with us – God Emmanuel.
Brothers and sisters, do you feel like a leper – like you are outside the camp – that you are unclean and unacceptable because of the hurts and the sins of the past? You need to know that there is nothing you have done that cannot be overcome by the forgiveness of God through repentance. Nothing is beyond Adonai Eloheinu’s reach or touch. God can make you clean! Jesus can make you kosher! Satan would have us believe that we are too far gone and can never be worthy to be with God. And you know what? We are not worthy – we cannot earn it. Atonement, becoming clean, forgiveness and eternal life are free gifts – if we simply accept God’s grace and yield to Him.
Brothers and sisters do not remain a spiritual leper like the rest of humanity. Become the beautiful bride of Messiah Yeshua. If God has made you clean, will you not renew your commitment to Him and seize opportunities to talk to those outside the camp?