Questions and Suggested Answers
Based on the writings of Nehama Leibowitz
Malbim comments on the 'and' in 'and on the eighth day he shall be circumcised' (12:3):
The conjunction 'and' has the function of connecting themes and phrases: it provides the nexus between commandments, events etc. The Torah does not use it otherwise. (E.g., "on the eighth day you shall have a solemn assembly' (Num. 29:35), having been preceded by, 'and on the second day', 'and on the third day', 'and on the fourth day' (ibid., 17, 20, 23) which are connected).
There appears to be no connection between 'and on the eighth day he shall be circumcised' and the preceding subject of the seven unclean and thirty-three clean days of a woman after confinement. The latter refers to the mother, and the former to the new-born child. The conjunction is , therefore, out of place.
Can you explain why 'and' is used in a 'parenthetical phrase'?
The 'and' in the parenthetical phrase is really connected to its preceding and following phrases. The three time periods i.e. of impure days, the eighth day, which also serves as the first day of the thirty-three day 'pure' period, and the 'pure' period itself, are all interconnected in a time sequence. Hence the conjunction 'and' precedes both the reference to the eighth day and the reference to the counting of the thirty-three days.
In addition, if the 'and' would be missing from the parenthetical phrase we might be misled into reading the verse that the counting of the eight days for circumcision first begins after the conclusion of the 7 impure days, thus requiring the circumcision on the fifteenth day after birth!!
note: the above answers are given by the Malbim in his commentary 'Hatorah V'hamitzva' on Parashat Tazria.
Prepared by: Rabbi Mordechai Spiegelman veteran yeshiva educator (USA) now residing in Jerusalem