Judaism: Blood and (Re)birth
Rabbi S. WeissRabbi Weiss is Director of the Jewish Outreach Center of Raanana and of the Ohel Ari Jewish Heritage Center.
The transition from Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) and Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day) to Yom Ha'Atzmaut (Independence Day) is among the most challenging exercises a Jew is required to perform. You
You almost have to be an expert race-car driver to be able to so rapidly switch emotional gears during these intense ten days.
almost have to be an expert race-car driver to be able to so rapidly switch emotional gears during these intense ten days.
How do we do it? I suggest our sedra, and the sefirah we are now counting, offer us a valuable insight.
Tazria opens by discussing the state of impurity known as nidah. A woman must (Biblically) count seven days from the end of menstruation in order to again reach a state of taharah, purity. Menstruation indicates the inability to bear new life (thus the status of tumah), while its conclusion represents the chance to give birth once more (taharah).
The counting of seven, of course, rings a bell for us. For we are all now counting another seven - seven weeks from Pesach to Shavuot. What is the connection between these two sevens?
I suggest the Torah is telling us that life is a progression from tragedy to triumph, from tumah to taharah, from despair to deliverance. It is only by enduring the blood that we ultimately achieve the birth. That is the history of Am Yisrael and the pattern which HaShem imposed upon the universe.
And so, we could not climb the mountain of Sinai had we not first gone through the bitter Egyptian experience and all the travail which it engendered. We emerged as a new creation, but we had to traverse a harsh birth canal to get there.
What seems difficult to understand is that the Torah also prescribes a state of nidah for a woman who has just given birth. This seems strange; should not this moment be one of pure joy, a celebration of absolute purity?
The answer lies in the whole origin of childbirth as we know it. The Zohar tells us that Chava, in Gan Eden, could conceive and deliver a child in the same day, with no pain at all. But then sin entered the world, Adam and Chava
We will restore the pristine perfection of Gan Eden.
became mere mortals, and the trauma of labor and delivery became the norm. And so, even having a child is tempered by the knowledge that this same pattern of pain and pleasure will continue.
But the good news is that it won't always be that way. In the end of days, we will restore the pristine perfection of Gan Eden, and childbirth - as well as life itself - will come with no suffering attached.
For those of us who have paid the supreme price for Israel - and so the celebration of Yom Ha'atzmaut cannot be fully realized - we await the coming of Moshiach and techiyat hametim, when all the souls will be reunited and the tears will finally disappear. May it happen soon, b'sha'ah tovah.