Double Mitzvah – Tazria / Metzora

Double Mitzvah Jewrotica Parsha

Written by Tamar Fox. Check out Tamar’s last post in this series, Double Mitzvah – Shemini.

Rated PGMuch of what we read in Tazria-Metzora is explicitly about bodily fluids that come from genitals. But crucially, these are not sexual emissions. They are the fluids of childbirth, of menstruation, and of seminal discharge that happened independent of a sexual situation. And these fluids cause a person to be tameh, often translated as impure, but perhaps more accurately rendered as not-Temple-ready. [In the times of the Temple in Jerusalem, some people could ascend to the Temple, and others could not. It was not a value judgement, as nearly everyone would be rendered tameh at some point in their life. It was a simple fact of life–at some points, one would be restricted from the Temple.]

The majority of this week’s portion details procedures for those who are not-Temple-ready, and it would be easy to stigmatize those in this category as somehow lesser, or spiritually contagious in a dangerous and disgusting way. But the procedures described in Tazria-Metzora are about bringing people back into the fold, not kicking people out.

Most sexually active young people today have some knowledge of STIs, and how to prevent them, whether by condoms, avoiding certain practices, or getting tested with a partner before having sex. But STIs still carry a huge stigma–which means some couples avoid talking about them, or getting tested and treated. In this week’s parsha, when we read about how to bring people back into the community, let’s think about ways that we can erase the stigma around those with STIs, how we can encourage people to be honest with their partners, and seek treatment. Because honesty and safety lead to better sex, and better lives.

Shabbat shalom!

Author of Jewrotica's Double Mitzvah column, Tamar Fox is a writer and editor in Philadelphia. She will try anything once, including open relationships, dating someone who is chalav yisrael, and going to Suriname.