Vol. 9 No. 27
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A Summary of Tum'as Tzara'as
(adapted from the Torah Temimah)
There are three kinds of Tzara'as (of the body) - Tzara'as on the skin, Tzara'as on the place of a boil or a burn, and Tzara'as on a bald patch of skin.
Tzara'as on the Skin
By Tzara'as on the skin, the skin needs to turn white (as will be explained later). When it does, there are three possible signs of Tum'ah: two white hairs that have sprouted inside the stricken area; a patch of ordinary skin inside the stricken area or the stricken area spreading. The first and second possibilities are applicable already when the Kohen first examines the stricken person, the third possibility, only after the first or second seven-day period of quarantine, as we will now explain.
If the stricken man (or woman) appears to the Kohen with a plain mark of Tzara'as, without white hairs or a patch of healthy skin, then the Kohen places him in quarantine (outside the city walls, like a Muchlat) for seven days.
After seven days, if the stricken skin remains unchanged, he places him under a second seven-day period of quarantine. But if it either sprouted two white hairs, or an area of healthy skin appeared in its midst, or even if it merely spread, then he declares him a Metzora Muchlat.
If after the second period of quarantine, any of the above occurred, the Kohen declares him Tamei; otherwise, he declares him Tahor (even if the Tzara'as remained unchanged, or if two black hairs grew inside it).
In the event that the Tzara'as returned, the Kohen declares him Tamei immediately.
Tzara'as on the Place of a Boil or a Burn
A boil in this context, means any wound other than one that is caused by fire. And both a boil or a burn, refer, not to a current wound (which is not subject to Tzara'as at all), but to one that is healing; and it is the fresh layer of skin now covering them that is stricken.
In this kind of Tzara'as, there are only two signs of Tum'ah: either two white hairs ([but not a patch of healthy skin] that appear either before or after the quarantine), or the Tzara'as spreading after seven days of quarantine. Should the Tzara'as remain unchanged after seven days, the Kohen declares him Tahor. There is no second period of quarantine.
Tzara'as in the place of a Bald Patch
This type of Tzara'as incorporates hair falling out at the back of the head (known as 'Karachas'), hair falling out at the front part of the head (known as 'Gabachas' [either of them, by any means - natural or otherwise - that makes a person permanently bald]), or a temporary bald patch that appeared anywhere on the head (known as 'Nesek').
Like with Tzara'as in the place of a boil or a burn, there are only two signs of Tzara'as - a white patch inside the bald patch ([but not two white hairs] either before or after the seven day-quarantine), or if the white mark spreads after the quarantine.
The procedure in this type of Tzara'as follows that of Tzara'as of the skin, in which case the Kohen prescribes a second period of quarantine, should the Tzara'as remain unchanged at the end of the first seven days.
What Constitutes Tzara'as
There are four degrees of (progressively dimmer) white that constitute Tzara'as - white like snow (known as Baheres); white like the clean wool from a new-born lamb (known as Se'eis); white like the lime that was used to mark the Heichal, and white like the skin of an egg. Anything that is less white than the last of these is called a Bohak and is Tohor. The latter two are included in "Sapachas" (which means secondary), and are Toldos of Baheres and Se'eis, respectively.
the Ba'al ha'Turim)
" ... the Kohen shall declare him Tamei" (13:44).
The word "Tamei" (with a Patach) occurs also in Kedoshim (20:3) " ... in order to render My Mikdash Tamei". This is a hint, explains the Ba'al ha'Turim, that a Zar (a non-Kohen) who enters the Beis-Hamikdash (although that is not what the Pasuk is actually talking about there), is subject to Tzora'as. And that is precisely what happened to Uziyah ha'Melech, when he assumed the Kehunah Gedolah.
A Prelude to Tefilah
" ... be'rosho nig'o" (his plague is on his head [ibid.]).
This word also appears in Divrei-Hayamim 2 (6:29 [in connection with the Tefilah of Shlomoh at the completion of the Beis-Hamikdash])" ... asher yeid'u ish nig'o" ('that every man should know his plague [i.e. faults]). This teaches us, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, that anyone who sets out to Daven should first take stock of his sins, and to purify them. Only then may he begin with his prayers.
This is particularly apt bearing in mind that the basis of Tefilah is to stand humbly before Hashem.
" ...his clothes shall be torn and (the hair of) his head shall grow long (ve'rosho yih'yeh foru'a" [13:45]).
This word "ve'rosho" occurs on three other occasions: in No'ach (11:4, in connection with the Tower) " ... ir u'migdal ve'rosho va'Shamayim" ('a city and a tower, with its head in the sky'); "ve'rosho magi'a ha'Shamaymah" ('and its head reached the heavens') in Vayishlach (28:12, in connection with Ya'akov's ladder), and in Iyov (20:6 with reference to pride) " ... ve'rosho le'av yagi'a" ('and his head reached the clouds').
All this is to stress that when the hair of one's head has to grow long (referring to a metzora), it is the result of one's swollen-headedness (which in turn, is the main cause of Lashon ha'Ra - see Rashi, Metzora 14:4).
One Gets What One Gives
"He shall dwell alone" (13:26).
Someone who splits up relationships - husband and wife, a man and his friend, causing loneliness and dejection, will himself be forced to live on his own, lonely and dejected (Rashi and Ba'al ha'Turim).
G-d's Midas ha'Din is awesome in its fair-handedness, even to the point of punishing measure for measure. Indeed, this, above all else, is what struck Yisro, and what caused him to convert to Judaism.
Getting Rid of It
"And he shall burn the garment ... in fire it shall be burned" (13:52).
The Pasuk begins with burning and ends with burning, comments the Ba'al ha'Turim. A hint, he explains, that whatever is Asur be'Hana'ah must be burned (see Mishnah Temurah 4:4/5).
Old and New Garments and Bald Heads
"It is a plague on the old garments or on the new ones" (13:56).
The words the Torah actually uses are "be'korachto o be'gabachto". Considering that both words stem from a word that means 'a bald patch' ('korachas' is a bald patch at the back of the head and 'gabachas' one at the front), we need to understand why the Torah uses these words here in describing old and new garments.
The Ba'al ha'Turim puts it neatly: when a garment becomes old, he explains, the hair (or the strands) fall out, hence the word 'korachas'. Whereas when a garment is new, the hairs protrude, which is the effect of hair at the back of the head, when the front is bald, which is what 'gabachas' is.
The Head, the Beard and the Eye-brows
"And it shall be, that on the seventh day he shall shave all his hair, his head, his beard and his eye-brows, and all his hair he shall shave" (14:9).
The reason that the Torah mentions specifically the three places of hair concentration that it does, explains the K'li Yakar, is because they represent the three areas of sin which result in Tzara'as. The head represents pride, the beard (which surrounds the mouth), evil speech and the eye-brows (which protect the eyes), miserliness.
The Good News
"When you come to the land of Cana'an ... then I will place Tzara'as on the houses that you will possess" (14:34).
The Pasuk begins as if it was about to relay some good news, yet the news that follows doesn't look that rosy (see Rashi).
The Or ha'Chayim explains the good news somewhat differently than Rashi. As long as they were still in the desert and had no houses in which to live, he says, G-d would strike a person's clothes or body with Tzara'as the moment he was guilty of speaking Lashon ha'Ra (or of one of the other sins punishable by Tzara'as). Once they entered Eretz Yisrael however, and became house-owners, He would first strike their houses with Tzara'as (as Chazal have said - G-d in His mercy, does not smite a person's body immediately, but begins with his house, thereby giving him a chance to do Teshuvah before smiting him personally).
The good news therefore was, that this act of Divine mercy would manifest itself the moment they entered Eretz Yisrael.
And that also explains why the Torah first begins with Tzara'as of the body, despite the fact that factually, the person's house would be stricken first. It is because Tzara'as of the body took effect immediately, whilst they were still in the desert, whereas Tzara'as of the house would not come into effect for another thirty-eight years, from the time they entered Eretz Yisrael.
The Or ha'Chayim himself deals with the question as to why the Dinim of Tzara'as of the body then precede those of Tzara'as of the clothes, when in fact, they would strike the offender in the reverse order. The Torah does this, he explains, because Tzara'as of the clothes resembles Tzara'as of the body regarding its measurement (one gris [the size of a small coin] and not two, like that of a house), whereas regarding the colour, it resembles Tzara'as of the house. (green or red, but not white). So the Torah places it in between the two of them.
The Tum'ah of Yisrael
" ... he will be Tamei like the Tum'ah of her nidus (ke'tum'as nidasah)" (15:26).
The word "ke'tum'as" accurs also in Yechezkel (36:17) "ke'tum'as ha'nidah haysah darkom lefonoy" (in connection with Yisrael's bad behaviour).
Yisrael's bad behaviour is referred to as Tum'ah, and what's more, to the tum'ah of a nidah (as opposed to that of a dead person) has major repercussions, inasmuch as it indicates two things. Firstly, it indicates that Yisrael can be compared to a nidah, who is not permanently forbidden, but can immerse in a Mikveh of forty sa'ah. Yisrael too, can become pure by immersing themselves in Torah (which is compared to water, and which was given in forty days). Secondly, it indicates that in the same way as a Kohen may remain in the same house as a nidah, so too, is G-d to be found 'in the same house' as Yisrael, even when they sin.
THE DINIM OF ERETZ YISRAEL
AND ITS MINHAGIM
The Text of the Separation of T'rumos and Ma'asros
One takes a little more than a hundredth of the fruit, sets it aside and says the following -
'What is more than a hundredth here, I declare T'rumah gedolah on the north side.
The remaining hundreth plus nine measures like it on the north side of the large pile of fruit, I declare Ma'aser Rishon. The initial hundredth that I just declared Ma'aser, I now declare T'rumas Ma'aser, and the Ma'aser Sheini, which I now declare on the south of the fruit, shall be transferred together with an extra fifth, on to a P'rutah of the coin which I designated for that purpose'.
In the event that the Ma'aser is (or might be) worth less than a P'rutah, one changes (the last transaction) to 'and the Ma'aser Sheini, which I now declare ... shall be redeemed together with an extra fifth, on to its equivalent value of the coin that I designated ... '. In addition, the coin in this case, should be one that has already been used to redeem Ma'aser to the value of at least a P'rutah (a P'rutah Chamurah), as we already explained earlier.
If one is redeeming fruit of the third or sixth years, one replaces the text 'and the Ma'aser Sheini ... ' with 'and Ma'aser Ani on the south side'.
And if one is unsure as to which year's fruit it is, one adds (after the full initial text) 'and if Ma'aser Ani needs to be separated, then I declare Ma'aser Ani on the south side (and not Ma'aser Sheini)'.
Note, that the same method of separation and the same text applies to liquids that need to be Ma'asered. Only one should take care that the vessel containing the liquid should be standing still in its place (without being moved or shaken).
Someone who is separating T'rumos and Ma'asros from a variety of species simultaneously, begins by separating a little more than a hundredth from each species, and then says -
'What is more than a hundredth here, I declare T'rumah gedolah on the north side, each species to cover that species.
The remaining hundredth plus nine measures like it on the north side of the pile of fruit, I declare Ma'aser Rishon, each species to cover that species. The initial hundredth that I just declared Ma'aser, I now declare T'rumas Ma'aser, each species to cover that species.
And the Ma'aser Sheini, which I now declare on the south of the fruit, each species to cover that species, shall be transferred together with an extra fifth, on to a P'rutah of the coin which I designated for that purpose'.
And if it is a year of Ma'aser Ani, he concludes instead 'and the Ma'aser Ani, I now declare on the south side, each species to cover t
Note, that fruit of the fourth year of the tree's growth ('Neta Revai') which is forbidden without redemption (as will be explained later in Si'man 20), is common nowadays. One should therefore consider all fruit of a tree as if it was Neta Revai and redeem it, unless one is certain that the tree on which they grew is more than four years old. Consequently, after the termination of the above text, one adds -
'And if the fruit is Neta Revai, then it (all the fruit), plus a fifth, is hereby redeemed on to a P'rutah of the coin that I have designated for the redemption of Ma'aser Sheini.
If someone separated more than a hundredth, and then recited the required text but, not knowing how to express the details, he declared that the Terumos and Ma'asros should take effect according to the Halachah, everything does indeed take effect according to the Halachah.
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