Nega’im in all era’s and places

Nega’im in all era’s and places implies that the mitzvah of the kohen viewing nega’im applys to בני ישראל independent of where they are geo-located, this is in line with the generality that a mitzvah that is a חובת הגוף applies both in the land of Israel and outside of it.  But, with the exception of home nega’im which is in effect only in the land of Israel.

So of the three types of nega’im in effect in the land of Israel only two are in effect outside of it.  Essentially, the kohen’s viewing of nega’im of the skin and of wool, linen or leather garments/vessels is explained by chazal as being in effect as follows, staring with the words of the posuk;

Skin nega’im

The Sifra commenting on the words זאת תהיה תורת המצורע explains בזמן הזה, meaning that the kohen’s viewing and purifying the menuga is applicable in all times and places – up to the point of the afflicted bringing his or her אשם מצורע which requires the מזבח. (Sifra metzora ch. 1 פירוש התורה והמצוה explains how the word תהיה implies the mitzvah is done diligently with or without the bet hamikdash and in or outside the land of Israel)

The rambam’s pirush to masechet negaim also indicates that it can happen outside the land of Israel. The pirush to perek 14 mishna 13 of the masechet relays from the sifra that Rabbi Tarfon -a kohen- purified three people afflicted with skin nega’im.

Rabbi Yehuda’s encounter with Rabbi Tarfon as related by Sifra; (metzora ch. 12)

“..he said to me; “Yehuda, with this (staff) I purified three metzora afflictees” and from it (his staff) I learnt seven halachot..”

The final two halachot Rabbi Yehudah learnt is that 1 the kohen purifies negaim with or without the bet hamikdash present and 2 it is done in all places.

The rambam repeats his opinion lehalacha in mishna torah, where he writes: טהרת מצורע זו נוהגת בארץ ובחוצה לארץ.

The rambam continues that the kohen need not himself be pure to examine the metzorah and inform him whether or not he is afflicted, even if the kohen is a zav or himself a tmei met he may do his duty of examining the affliction.1)1

Vayikra rabbah (16;3) also relates that there where metzora instances in the amoraic period.

Very important are the words of the sefer ha-chinuch (mitzvah 584); איסור תלישת סימן טומאה באדם, בגד, (או בית) נוהג בכל מקום ובכל זמן -this heightens the standard of today’s torah observant jew that he be keen regarding any tzoraath afflictions as not to transgress on a negative mitzvah of uprooting the hairs located within the boundaries of the tzoraath affliction.



Dealing wiith nega’im of garments, chazal take a similar approach;

זֹאת תּוֹרַת נֶגַע צָרַעַת בֶּגֶד הַצֶּמֶר אוֹ הַפִּשְׁתִּים אוֹ הַשְּׁתִי אוֹ הָעֵרֶב אוֹ כָּל כְּלִי עוֹר לְטַהֲרוֹ אוֹ לְטַמְּאוֹ.

The key words here are לְטַהֲרוֹ אוֹ לְטַמְּאוֹ the Sifra explains; כשם שמצוה בארץ כך מצוה בחוצה לארץ, just as the mitzvah of the kohen viewing an afflicted wool, linen or leather garment/vessel is a mitzvah in eretz yisroel, it is a mitzvah outside eretz yisroel as well. (Sifra tazria ch. 181)


Seemingly, the wording לטהרו או לטמאו indicates that just as the kohen has the mitzvah to do both in an equal manner; both the tumah process and the Taharah process are mitzvot of equal value..

Although the rambam is explicit about skin nega’im being in effect outside of eretz yisroel, with clothing nega’im he isn’t. Most rambam commentaries understand that the rambams opinion is in line with the Sifra’s לטהרו או לטמאו explanation.

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