Last to be created, but the only one with the power of speech.
The Torah portion of Tazria begins with the commandment related to the birth of a child;
“Speak to the children of Israel, saying: 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.”( Leviticus 12:2)
Rashi explains on this verse the following; Rabbi Simlai said: “Just as in the Creation, man was created after all domestic animals, wild beasts, and birds, so too, the law [concerning the “purity”] of man is stated after the law [concerning the “purity”] of domestic animals, wild beasts, and birds.”- [Vayikra Rabbah 14:1
That order is not happenstance. On the one hand, man being last in creation indicated the importance of his purpose, while at the same time being created after all else was created served to humble him as well.
It is that duality that defines mankind’s existence.
There are times that mortals can achieve their ultimate potential and be a vessel of spirituality, and purpose in this world. It is then that they are the crown of creation.
Sadly, there are times when man falls prey to his momentary desires and whims and loses his way and direction. This world is populated by so many varied species achieving what they were created for, while mankind flounders.
That same truth is revealed with the laws of Tahara ( ritual purity) and Tuma ( impurity ). The concepts ofTahara and Tuma do not relate to what their English translations wrongly portray. These concepts have nothing to do with powers of goodness as opposed to powers of evil (pure and impure). They also have nothing to do hygiene and personal cleanliness (Clean and Unclean). They cannot be seen as some type of blot or physical manifestation that needs to be removed or cleansed.
They are concepts that can only be explained in picture form. Being Tahor is about continuing to be a potential vessel for the sacred and the holy. Being Tameh is about losing that potential. Every event that transforms a once pure “vessel’ into impurity , results from the loss of that potential ( death, decay or the elimination of the ovum).
Therein lies the connection to the sequence of verses. The malady of tzaraat (mistakenly called leprosy) is more of a spiritual malady than a physical one.
It is a result of slanderous speech.
The dramatic difference between mankind and the animal kingdom is the power of speech. It is the power of relationship, of study and of growth. Its misuse can lead to destruction and psychological trauma and pain. When one misuses the divine power of speech he resorts to being the last in creation. On the other hand , if one uses words to uplift , love and inspire, one becomes the crown of creation.
LeRefuat Yehudit bat Golda Yocheved