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THE KEY TO LIFE

by Rabbi Ariel Asa    
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer    

". . .When a woman conceives and gives birth to a boy, she shall be ritually impure for seven days, just as she is ritually impure during the time of her separation infirmity" (Leviticus 12:2).

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". . .When a woman conceives and gives birth to a boy, she shall be ritually impure for seven days, just as she is ritually impure during the time of her separation infirmity" (Leviticus 12:2).

Rabbi Yochanan stated: Three "keys" are in the hands of Hashem that are not given to an intermediary. . .the "key" of childbirth, as it says, "And Hashem remembered Rachel and He listened to her and He opened her womb" (Talmud Tractate
Ta'anit 2).

The concept of tumah (ritual impurity) is one of the most challenging concepts for people living in the modern world to comprehend. If we program our CD-ROM to do a search of the Torah and locate the various places where this concept appears, we will find a common thread that links them all together - whenever there is a departure of Hashem's divine presence, tumah will fill the void that is left.

The first time we find the terminology of tumah used in the Torah is in Genesis (chapter 34) when Jacob's daughter Dinah is violated by Shechem. We can well understand that such a relationship between a man and woman is the extreme opposite of the peaceful one between husband and wife which causes Hashem to dwell with a couple. In the case of Dinah, because the very act that had the potential to bring Hashem's presence was lacking true love and peace, a state of tumah was created.

Another example is the tumah that occurs when a soul leaves a body and a person passes away. When a person is alive, with his soul intact, Hashem's presence is with him. The moment the soul leaves, tumah cleaves to the physical body which no longer contains a spark of the divine presence.

So too, explains the Kotzker Rebbe, one of the greatest Chassidic Rebbes of the mid-19th century, when a woman is in childbirth, Hashem's presence is so close that He personally "holds the key" to open the womb. When the child is born, that special closeness is gone, thus causing a temporary state of tumah to the woman.

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Rabbi Ariel Asa is an educator at Torah Day School of Atlanta teaching seven year olds and has been a practicing mohel for seven years. This is also his seventh appearance in the pages of Torah from Dixie.

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