This Sabbath, we have reached our 27th weekly Torah portion. For those of you who are new to Messianic Lite, we are following the annual Jewish reading calendar. That means there is no skipping. That would be cheating. But to be honest, if I had to choose any section to skip, it would probably be this one. If you have read ahead, you know that Leviticus 12:1 to 15:33 is completely occupied by issues of ritual impurity. These are not moral issues of impurity. The list of what taints revolves entirely around physical and natural occurrences. The reading starts with the Jewish rulings on childbirth and how many days after birth the mother is considered unclean. Next comes a lengthy section on skin disease. Priests put on their dermatologist hat and check burns, rashes, infections, and swelling to determine if a person is clean or unclean. If they are defiled, the priest prescribes regulations for ritual cleansing. This involves washing one’s clothes, shaving their hair, going outside the camp for a set number of days, and shouting “Unclean!, Unclean!” Before the defiled person can reenter the community, they must bring to the tabernacle an offering, which they can afford, for the priest to sacrifice upon the altar. Leviticus states, “In this way the priest will make atonement before the Lord on behalf of the one to be cleansed.”
What I find most interesting in this section is not the various house molds or the coloring of skin sores. In fact, what I find most interesting about this text is not in the text itself, but an important Jewish ritual that derived from it.