As I’ve developed my Torah tie collection over the years, I’m often asked by people with some knowledge of the Torah reading cycle what ties I could possibly wear for Tazria-Metzora. Last year, I partially answered that question with medical-themed tie for the double portion of Tazria-Metzora. The two portions together deal with various medical conditions, including skin disease, that barred victims from participation in Temple worship until they recovered. The Kohanim (priests), while certainly not doctors of today’s standards, were the arbiters of who could and could not enter the Temple precincts.
This year, due to the leap year on the Jewish calendar, the double portion is split into separate weeks. What is a TieBlogger to do? Have no fear–I have just the tie.
Parashat Tazria begins with instructions concerning a woman after childbirth and the purification rites she must go through depending on whether she bears a boy or girl. Rabbi Harold Kushner asks: “Is the normal period of impurity after giving birth one week, and is it doubled after the birth of a daughter because the new mother has given birth to a child who will herself contain the divine gift of nurturing and giving birth to new life? Or is the normal period two weeks, only to be reduced after the birth of a son to allow the mother to attend the b’rit in a state of ritual purity, or because b’rit milah on the eighth day is a purifying rite?” Rabbi Kushner leaves it to us to ponder the answer to that question. In the meantime, the verb tazria literally means, “when [the woman] conceives.” The root z-r-a means seed. In order for her to conceive and give birth, her ovum must be fertilized by sperm, also known in Hebrew as z-r-a, seed. This tie may be PG-13, but it reflects the discussion of conception and childbirth at the start of Parashat Tazria.