Purification Process Following Tzaraat

Apr 12, 2015

וַיְדַבֵּר יְהֹוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר׃

Hashem spoke to Moshe, saying:

Leviticus 14:1

זֹאת תּוֹרַת אֲשֶׁר־בּוֹ נֶגַע צָרָעַת אֲשֶׁר לֹא־תַשִּׂיג יָדוֹ בְּטָהֳרָתוֹ׃

Such is the ritual for him who has a scaly affection and whose means for his cleansing are limited.

Leviticus 14:32

Since tzaraat renders one ritually impure, the Torah next describes the process by which the afflicted becomes purified. It is a three-stage process.


First, the priest must determine that the physical manifestations of the affliction are gone. The priest then slaughters a clean bird and takes a second clean bird, a crimson thread and a sprig of hyssop and dips them in the blood of the first blood, sprinkling it on the contaminated individual. The bird is then set free and the person must immerse his clothing in water, shave his head, then immerse himself. He may then return to the camp, but cannot enter his own dwelling.


The next stage takes place seven days later. Again the person shaves all his hair, immerses himself and his clothing.


The final step, on the eighth day, involves offering two unblemished lambs and an unblemished ewe, flour and oil. These serve as guilt, sin, burnt and meal offerings which provide atonement for the former leper. If the individual cannot afford these animals, however, he is permitted to bring just one lamb, less flour and two pigeons or turtledoves for his offerings. The priest performs specific rituals with these offerings to purify the formerly afflicted individual.


Virtual Classroom Discussion

Why do you think the purification process for tzaraat is so complex and so costly?

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