Living on the Boundary

Parashat Tazria

Interpreters have long been perplexed by this strange set of laws at the beginning of this week's parashah. Why is a woman who gives birth considered impure? And why must she bring a hattat, or sin offering—has she done something wrong for which she must atone? Even more confusingly: why does her impurity last longer when she gives birth to a girl than when she gives birth to a boy? (5774)