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March 27, 2014 / conservadox

Dvar Torah- Tazria

This week’s Torah portion begins by noting that after childbirth, a woman must wait over a month to bring an offering and become ritually pure (Lev. 12). *

Why so long?  Scharfstein says that according to medieval Italian commentator Sforno, this waiting period is “geared to her peace of mind…[only after such a period] the birth mother can now pray with kavanah (intent) and concentrate on the holiness of the sacred offering.”  In other words, giving birth is really distracting- especially in those days, when women often died in childbirth and babies often died within the first month or so.

More broadly construed, really stressful experiences can sometimes make prayer hard.  After a truly scary experience, one can pray with renewed gratitude or intensity- but (at least for some people) more so after the experience is over than when one is in the thick of the crisis.   The Torah is perhaps saying that even if there are no atheists in foxholes, it is still easier to think holy thoughts once you are out of the foxhole.

*Why does birth make her ritually impure in the first place?  For one perspective go here.

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