The verse in Vayikra 12:2 says

דַּבֵּר אֶל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לֵאמֹר אִשָּׁה כִּי תַזְרִיעַ וְיָלְדָה זָכָר וְטָמְאָה שִׁבְעַת יָמִים כִּימֵי נִדַּת דְּו‍ֹתָהּ תִּטְמָא

If a woman conceives and gives birth to a male, she shall be unclean for seven days; as [in] the days of her menstrual flow, she shall be unclean.

Verse 3 continues

וּבַיּוֹם הַשְּׁמִינִי יִמּוֹל בְּשַׂר עָרְלָתוֹ

And on the eighth day, the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised

The flow of the verses, by placing the circumcision as following the end of impurity, seems to be conceptually linking the two, as one conceptually following the other. This is accentuated by the fact that circumcision is seemingly out of place here in the discussion of laws of impurity of a woman who gives birth, and is thrown in as a seeming aside.

Is there some connection between the two?

  • 1
    +1, but the simplest answer may be that the sentences are related chronologically and don't need to be related thematically.
    – msh210
    Commented Mar 30, 2014 at 2:11
  • @msh210 yes, but it's not satisfying - if it's unrelated, I wouldn't have been wondering "but what about the bris?" and the Torah has no reason to move on to day 8. It doesn't say that 30 days later do a pidyon haben and 13 years later give him a bar mitzvah. Commented Mar 30, 2014 at 2:20

8 Answers 8


Rav Ovadia S'forno says that some of the dam nidus is still around (and unassimilated) in the baby's body for the first week, so it wouldn't be fitting to perform a mitzva on it during that time. (I don't believe he specifies the reason beyond common sense for the latter part.)


The Tol'dos Yitzchak (by Rav Yitzchak Karo, uncle of the Bes Yosef) explains that medical experts have identified three natural causes of tzaraas: poor diet, intercourse with a menstruant, and not being circumcised. Thus, before discussing the laws of tzaraas, the Torah discusses proper diet (in parashas Sh'mini), intercourse with a woman who is like a menstruant, and circumcision, warning us of the natural causes of tzaraas. The Torah then goes on to say, since Jews will keep from the natural causes of tzaraas, that tzaraas on a Jew must have a divine cause, so he should go to a kohen, etc.


The Chasam Sofer brought here explains the connection with the gemara Niddah 31b, which teaches that the reason why a woman who give birth to a male is unclean for seven days and not fourteen days like for a female, is so that it should not be that everyone is happy (because of the joy of the occasion of the Bris Milah) but the father and mother will be sad.

Therefore it says אִשָּׁה כִּי תַזְרִיעַ וְיָלְדָה זָכָר וְטָמְאָה שִׁבְעַת יָמִים - “If a woman conceives and gives birth to a male, she shall be unclean for seven days”, and not fourteen days like for a female, because וּבַיּוֹם הַשְּׁמִינִי יִמּוֹל בְּשַׂר עָרְלָתוֹ and thus everyone will be happy.


I heard an answer to this question not half an hour ago.

The Talmud Bavli Nidah 31B says

ומפני מה אמרה תורה מילה לשמונה שלא יהו כולם שמחים ואביו ואמו עצבים

The reason the bris is on the eighth day and not the seventh day is because on the seventh day, the woman is still teameiah and cannot be with her husband (or do any of the chumros that stem from that), and the father and mother would be unhappy while everyone else is celebrating.

Is a woman who gave birth last week likely to want to have relations with her husband? Probably not but God doesn't want there to be any marital restrictions, no matter how minor and technical on the joyous day of the bris.

  • Most other such restrictions are Rabbinic in nature, so why would they matter?
    – Double AA
    Commented Mar 30, 2014 at 2:19
  • Targum Yonasan actually reads this Gemara into the verse. Commented Apr 29, 2014 at 20:36
  • This Gemara is brought by the Keli Yaqar on the verses in question.
    – Lee
    Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 17:23

The Connection is given in Talmud Bavli Shabbas 135A. אמר רבי אסי: כל שאמו טמאה לידה - נימול לשמונה, וכל שאין אמו טמאה לידה - אין נימול לשמנה, שנאמר (ויקרא יב) אשה כי תזריע וילדה זכר וטמאה וגו' וביום השמיני ימול בשר ערלתו. אמר ליה אביי: דורות הראשונים יוכיחו, שאין אמו טמאה לידה - ונימול לשמנה! - אמר ליה: נתנה תורה ונתחדשה הלכה. There is a dispute between Rabbi Assi and Abaya. Rabbi Assi says that that only if there was a normal birth, e.g. not a cesarean section, is the Bris on the eighth day, and that's derived from this verse: a eighth-day Bris is only for someone on whose mother the Torah imposes postpartum Tum'a. Abaya argues and says that the eighth day for a Bris was already established in earlier generations, i.e., Abraham. Rabbi Assi responds that a new halacha was established when the Torah was given.


The sefer כםף נבחר here writes (the following is paraphrased summary):

Chazal learn from the verse וּבַיּוֹם הַשְּׁמִינִי יִמּוֹל בְּשַׂר עָרְלָתוֹ that Bris Milah should be done on the eighth day, even if the eighth day falls out on Shabbos. But why does the Torah allude to this halachah here - what relevance does it have to the Torah’s discussion about a woman who gives birth?

But there is another question which needs to be answered here. Since it says in the ספר חסידים that the righteous in earlier generations refrained from having relations on the first three days of the week so that their wives would not give birth on Shabbos because the length of pregnancy is either 271, 272 or 273 days, how could the eighth day fall out on Shabbos?

The answer to both these questions can be learned from what the שפתי כהן writes on this parsha from the gemara in Nedarim, that although it is forbidden for a woman to ask her husband directly to have relations, she is allowed to hint to him (for example, by putting on perfume), and if she does so he is obligated to be with her. That’s why it does not say אשה כי תזרע, it says תזריע - she causes the man to give seed, by initiating the relations in the way which is permitted, by hinting.

In this way even the righteous of the earlier generations (and the generation of the wilderness were called חסידים as the gemara in Sanhedrin 110b learns from the verse in Tehillim 50:5) could be with their wives on the first three days of the week, and thus the eighth day could fall out on Shabbos.

Thus the connection and relevance between אִשָּׁה כִּי תַזְרִיעַ וְיָלְדָה זָכָר and וּבַיּוֹם הַשְּׁמִינִי יִמּוֹל בְּשַׂר עָרְלָתוֹ - when a woman causes her husband to be with her, Bris Milah takes place on the eighth day, even if that day is Shabbos.


I have a discussion of this point in my blog at Parsha Tazria - Why is Milah in the middle of Tum'ah. One section is

Rav Samson Rafael Hirsch has stated that the numbers 6, 7, and 8 connect with Maasei Bereishis [creation] to show the way a person exists. The number 6 is the creation of the natural world. It is the set up of the laws and instincts that alolow the physical world to continue and the living beings in it to exist. Shabbos, as the number 7, symbolizes the completion of the natural world and the continuation of nature without new 'explicit' creations. The number 8 therefore, symbolizes "L'ma'alah min hatevah" [above or outside of nature]. That is the beginning of a new cycle, showing a raising of human status so that Man, unlike the rest of nature can change. This is hinted at in the first Rashi of Parshas Tazria which states that Rav Simlai explained that this is connected to the order of creation in which Man was created after all the animals. Just as Man was created after all the animals, the parsha of giving birth comes after the explanation of taharah [ritual purity] for the animals. Bris Milah is the next step (L'maaleh min Hateva') of Bnai Yisroel.

I then connect the fact that tzora'as is a totally 'miraculous' occurence and not a normal "disease" to the concept of bris milah and explain why bris milah must come before Tzora'as.


Tol'dos Yitzchak (by Rav Yitzchak Karo, uncle of the Bes Yosef) mentions that circumcision is on the eighth day "because the boundary of acute illness is the seventh day. That he left his mother's womb for the world's atmosphere is an acute illness and major change, so its boundary, too, is the seventh day. If he were to be circumcised within seven days, he'd die, but on the eighth day he's already escaped his sickness and become healed." He doesn't give this as a reason for the Torah's mentioning circumcision here, but it seems to me a valid reason, since the verses here are discussing childbirth.


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