The Hardest Thing to Change is Your Self

April 4, 2016 at 6:03 PM , , ,

“…If a woman conceives and gives birth to a male, she shall be unclean for seven days…” – Vayikra 12:2

אִשָּׁה כִּי תַזְרִיעַ וְיָלְדָה זָכָר וְטָמְאָה שִׁבְעַת יָמִים – ויקרא יב, ב

Parshas Tazria addresses several impurities associated with the human body and teaches us their means of purification. Rashi notes that this discussion follows the discussion in the previous parsha concerning the clean and unclean members of the animal kingdom—the kosher and the non-kosher. Quoting from the Midrash, Rashi explains: Just as man’s creation was after all domestic animals, wild beasts, and birds, so too, the Torah’s laws concerning man are stated after the laws regarding domestic animals, wild beasts, and birds.

What is the significance of man’s creation (on the sixth day of creation) after everything else?

Change Your Self

The Midrash explains that man was created last to indicate that, if he is unworthy, he is inferior to all the animals that preceded him in the order of creation. As explained in Tanya (Chapter 29), the lowliness of the human being is his inherent potential to desire that which G-d forbids—even if he does not actually disobey G-d’s commands. This is the significance of the human being’s creation after all the animals, beasts and birds, signifying the human’s inferiority. For even non-kosher animals and ferocious beasts can never defy their G-dly mission and purpose for existence, whereas the human being can be drawn and attracted to behavior that G-d despises and forbids.

This explains why the Torah’s laws regarding the purity and impurity of man likewise come after the laws concerning animals. The Torah gradually advances the learner from topics and tasks that are easy to those that are more difficult. The laws of discerning between the clean and unclean, and between the pure and impure, represent the spiritual refinement of the various aspects of creation as enabled by the Torah. Therefore, the final task addressed is the refinement of the coarse human body. As the human body carries the potential to directly oppose G-d’s will more so than any other creation, its refinement is likewise the most difficult task of all.

—Likutei Sichos, vol. 7, pp. 74-76


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