In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
Studying the Biblical laws of clean and unclean seem to take us to a world far removed from our present society. We cannot though, read these passages in the Book of Leviticus and judge them according to the dynamics of our present world; we need to understand them according to their own context.
All the issues of ritual impurities in the Bible have to do with separating the holy from death, decay and corruption. All the regulations mentioned about ‘ritual purity’ in the Bible can be understood in the idea that God, being Life Itself, cannot and does not have anything to do with whatever decays and dies. All the earthly elements therefore that represent Him must be free from corruption. We easily see these ideas in the gold covered acacia wood that makes the Ark, a wood with the properties of cedar that fights corruption. Salt also, which is a preservative has to be added to meat offerings and the meat discarded within three days before it turns rancid. Of course, as long as we are in this mortal body and on this temporal earth, we cannot fully get rid of corruption; the whole idea is therefore a message from the Father to teach us about Himself.
A woman has done nothing wrong when she enters her monthly time and even less when she has a baby which is to fulfill one of the greatest of God’s commandments but yet, at these times she is considered ritually unclean. One thing we need to realize is that being ritually unclean is not about having committed a sin. It is a mere acknowledgment of our mortal human condition, and these rules are mostly related to Temple service. All one needs to do is to take a ‘mikveh’ (ritual immersion/baptism) to be ritually clean again.
The best way to understand it is to relate it to protocol. There is certain protocol to enter for example in the presence of the President of the U.S, and while it doesn’t mean that we are all criminals, this protocol has mostly to do with security.
In the days of Yeshua, some people went overboard in their concerns with ritual purity. The Master tells this story about a dying wounded man on the road to Jericho. A levite and a priest pass him by choosing to not help him because they were concerned to stay pure (Luke 10:25-37). This shows a misunderstanding of the idea. The Master Himself who is sinless and coming from the halls of Heaven was not afraid to put on the impurity of humanity and make Himself impure in order to rescue us from our mortality. Again, ritual purity is not about having committed a sin One can obey every dictum of the Torah and still be impure. It is solely a condition.
May we in our sense of righteousness not be found to be like the afore-mentioned Levite or priest who because they were so concerned about their own purity, failed to obey the commandment to reach out to those in need. The Master did not discard the practices of ritual purity which came from Him to start with, but He did say, These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others (Matthew 23:23).