“When a woman conceives and gives birth to a son, she shall be tamei (ritually impure) for seven days…And if she bears a female, she shall be tamei for two weeks.” (Vayikra/Leviticus 12:2, 5)
Why is the time of tumah (ritual impurity) doubled when a girl is born?
Rav Yissocher Frand in Rabbi Frand on the Parsha writes that a pregnant woman comes “as close to being like the Creator as a human being can possibly come. [In creating new life] she gained a touch of the Divine and became sanctified.” He explains that a woman’s kedushah (sanctity/holiness) increases during pregnancy, climaxes at childbirth, and then disappears.
According to the Kuzari, when kedushah departs, it leaves a void. It follows that the greater the void left by the withdrawal of kedushah, the more tumah rushes in to fill it.
Rav Frand suggests that when a woman is pregnant with a girl, she rises to a much higher level of kedushah because her unborn daughter is a potential creator. Therefore, when she delivers a girl, a woman loses more kedushah than if the baby had been male. As a result, the mother’s tumah is proportionately greater than if she had borne a boy.
Rabbi A.L. Scheinbaum in Peninim on the Torah puts forth that the increased period of tumah accomplishes for the female child what the bris milah (ritual circumcision) does for a male child. He writes: “The striking characteristic of a Jewish woman...is her ability to sublimate herself to the level of morality and modesty to which man has a constant reminder in the form of the bris milah on his body.”
“The double period of y’mei tumah (days of ritual impurity) infuses the mother with her two-fold mission. First, she must raise her daughter to represent the character of the Jewish woman. Second, she must do so by personally being a role model of this noble virtue…With each female birth, the mother must doubly prepare herself to lead the child along the lofty path of virtue and purity.”