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Tazria

  
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 13:1  13:2
13:2 If a person has a [white] blotch, discoloration or spot on the skin of his body, and it [is suspected] of being a mark of the leprous curse on his skin, he shall be brought to Aaron, or to one of his descendants, who are the priests.
Adam ki-yihyeh ve'or-besaro set o-sapachat o vaheret vehayah ve'or-besaro lenega tsara'at vehuva el-Aharon hakohen o el-achad mibanav hakohanim.



Commentary:

white blotch
  (cf. Saadia) Se'eth in Hebrew. This is a mark of leprosy (see Leviticus 14:56), which is specifically described as being white (13:10,19). According to Talmudic tradition, it is the color of clean white wool (Negaim 1:1; Yad, Tumath Tzaraath 1:2). According to one opinion, it is the color of the membrane of an egg (Rabbi Meir, Negaim 1:1).

According to many sources, the word se'eth comes from the root nasa meaning 'raised' (cf. Genesis 4:7, 49:3). This is because it appears higher than the skin, even though it is not physically higher (Sifra; cf. Gra ad loc.; Yad, Tumath Tzaraath 1:7; Rash, Negaim 1:1; Radak, Sherashim; Chizzkuni; Ralbag). Since the skin is somewhat translucent, an opaque white patch will appear to be raised (see note on bahereth).

According to others, however, a se'eth is an actual swelling or raised spot (Shevuoth 6b; Raavad on Tumath Tzaraath 1:7). It may thus be a sort of white wart or mole (Ibn Janach). The Septuagint translates it as oulie which can denote a 'barleycorn,' hence, possibly, a subcutaneous nodule.

Later, we see that a bahereth can turn out to be a 'se'eth due to a burn' (Leviticus 13:28). It is recognized as a se'eth by the fact that it does not spread. Similarly, in other places where the se'eth is discussed, it is seen as a mark that does not normally spread (Leviticus 13:10, 10, 43), but is declared unclean for other reasons. Nevertheless, however, if a se'eth spreads, it is a sign of uncleanness.

Since se'eth is associated with a burn (Leviticus 13:28), some authorities associate it with a burn of inflammation (Ibn Ezra; Radak, Sherashim; Ibn Janach; cf. Ramban). Some see the Septuagint's translation of oulie as denoting a scar or cicatrix.

discoloration
  (cf. Saadia). Sapachath in Hebrew. According to Talmudic tradition, this is a secondary type of mark, of a slightly duller white than a se'eth (Shevuoth 6b; Sifra; Radak, Sherashim; Ibn Janach). According to tradition, it is the color of egg membrane (Negaim 1:1; Yad, Tumath Tzaraath 1:2). According to some, it is the color of white wool, brighter than se'eth but duller than bahereth (Rabbi Meir, Negaim 1:1; Tifereth Yisrael ad loc. 1:8).

According to some sources, sapachath denotes a scab (Ibn Ezra), a pustule (Radak, Sherashim), an eruption (Ibn Janach), a birthmark (Ibid.; Septuagint, siemasia in Greek) or a cuticular crust. Although it is seen as a leprous mark (Leviticus 14:56), it is not mentioned elsewhere in this section. The word sapachath, however, is related to mispachath, which is seen as a clean mark (Leviticus 13:6,7,8). Some interpret sapachath as a secondary or external symptom (HaKethav VeHaKabbalah).

spot
  (Saadia). Bahereth in Hebrew. Rashi also translates it as chabarburah, a spot (cf. Jeremiah 13:23), tiar in Old French (tache in Modern French). It is a highly visible spot (Ibn Ezra), that can be seen from a distance. The Septuagint thus translates it as telaugema which means a shiny or bright spot that can be seen from a distance.

The Torah explicitly describes a bahereth as a spot (Leviticus 13:38,39), that is white (Leviticus 13:4) or bright pink (Leviticus 13:19,24). According to Talmudic tradition, it is as white as snow, like Miriam's leprosy (Numbers 12:10; cf. Exodus 4:6; Negaim 1:1; See Sifra 2:2 on Leviticus 13:4; Radak, Sherashim).

The Talmud describes a bahereth as appearing lower than the skin (see Leviticus 13:4; Shevuoth 6b; Sifra, Rashi). This appears to indicate that it is a spot that is more transparent than the surrounding skin, and hence appears deeper (Yerioth Sh'lomo 2:46b; HaKethav VeHaKabbalah).

and it is suspected
  (Chizzkuni). Or, '[combining to] form a leprous mark on his skin' (Sifra, Hirsch). This teaches that the total area of the mark must be as great as a large bean (garis) (Negaim 6:1; Yad, Tumath Tzaraath 1:7). Thus, it must be approximately inch or 2 centimeters in diameter (Darkey Teshuvah 190:40; cf. Yad, Issurey Biyah 9:6; Yoreh Deah 190:5).

leprous curse
  Tzara'ath in Hebrew; lepra in Greek (Septuagint). The 'leprosy' or 'leprous curse' mentioned in the Torah is not Hansen's disease caused by the germ mycobacterium leprae. Rather it was a physical symptom of a spiritual defect, occurring primarily in individuals on a high spiritual level, whose body functions were subject to their spiritual state (cf. Yad, Tumath Tzaraath 16:10). Thus, a gentile having a leprous mark is not unclean (Negaim 3:1), and a bridegroom may delay having it examined (Negaim 3:2). It is seen as resulting from slander (cf. Numbers 12:10).





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