Purification ceremony for צרעת

Note: This purification ceremony is Torah-mandated to Jewish people upon rescission of צרעת

Once the vitiligo is cured, the Taharah (purifying) process can and should begin the very same day (Sifra metzora ch. 5), even outside the land of Israel (Maimonides commentary to Mishna tractate Nega’im 14:13) the recipe is as follows;

  1. A kohen
  2. 2 birds
  3. Cedar-wood stick
  4. Razor
  5. Wool strip dyed red with שני תולעת
  6. a Tera cotta bucket
  7. Spring water

Ridiculed by some

The Taharah process performed by the kohen is listed by the talmud as one prone to ridicule by the שטן, although it may be easy to ridicule, it is prudent to remember that this process is a חוק -a divine statute above and beyond human reason and analysis ( yebamot 67b)

The purifying kohen may himself be a זב or טמא מת (sifra metzora ch. 6), and of the process the kohen is only required to perform the essential parts;

The Sifra (Rabbi Yehuda) writes that the kohen does slaughter the bird (Rabbi Yehuda ben Yossi disagrees – Sifra metzora ch. 15), he also spritz’s its blood, and shaves the afflicted’s body, the other specified acts may be performed by a non-kohen. (Sifra metzora ch. 4)

Other sources hint that the kohen himself never does slaughter (Zohar 2 p. 123a, kitvei ramban p. 531, rabbeinu bchaye to b’midbar 5,49) especially when dealing with an individuals Korban (a Korban tzibbur may be different in terms of the kohen performing the slaughter – recanati to Chumash p. 184).

What’s with the birds?

The two birds taken are to be kosher and equal in age and appearance but if they aren’t equal it’s ok anyway (Sifra metzora ch. 10), this said, the choice of which bird is slaughtered depends on which of the two is more distinct (Sifra metzora ch. 16). Rabbi shimon says that the bird duo to be used are of the species called קיפל, translated as the partridge bird native to the Middle East.

The quantity of springwater is a rivi’ith (apprx. 3 oz) -an amount that won’t dilute the visibility of the birds blood. (Sota 16b)

The kohen then binds the first three (the עץ ארז, the שני תולעת, and the אזוב) aall together (kinda reminds u about the lulav,hadassim and aravot eh?) with a thin strip hanging off of the תולעת שני tongue of wool (see תורה והמצוה to Sifra פרשת מצורע ch. 21), the choices bird is slaughtered and the kohen dips the three bound articles along with the (alive and unbound bird) into the blood of the slaughtered bird which dripped into the spring water in the terra cotta vessel and sprays this liquid onto the back of the afflicted’s hand (or his forehead, see Sifra metzora ch. 26).

The shave

The kohen then shaves the metzora’s body; head, beard (although normally prohibited), and even eyebrows (chest, underarms, pubic hair included but not nasal hair -see Sifra metzora ch. 31 and 35)

The metzora needn’t immerse himself in a spring (hydrosphere) as part of his Taharah process.(Sifra to vayikra 15 13)

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