Calling tzaraat

What is it about tzoraath? is this discoloration a heavenly message that can happen today? can it happen outside of the land of Israel? can it happen to a non-jew? can it happen to a kohen?

We would like to present to today’s kohen a number of articles and pictures to easily understand what is expected of the kohen in terms of being knowledgeable about nega’im and the role the kohen serves in helping the afflicted person, garment or real property become tahor.

Tzoraath, also know as nega’im, is a physical discoloration that affects the home, clothing or skin. This discoloration is the work of a divine message to the Jewish male or female and cannot be cured by your medical professorial, dermatologist or even the kohen, if fact it is cured only when g-d decides the afflicted person has repented.


Tzaraat (white skin patch) is a skin blemish where the skin retains it’s original texture and feel but only appears off-color it can even turn the hair inside of it white, modern idiopathic skin color changes are strikingly similar to the description of the tzaraat affliction as portrayed in the mishna and by the Rishonim.

Rashi, the Rambam, and achronim such as the תפארת ישראל, in his introduction to מסכת נגעים describes tzoraath not as a protruding or raised disorder of skin, but rather as a כתם -a “stained” discoloring of the regular and natural skin tone.

What’s the kohen’s role?

It is the person’s adverse action that brings about this divine message and it is the kohen who must evaluate if the discoloration is full-blown tzoraath or just a pre-marker. In both events, the kohen is expected to inform the person why he or she was afflicted based on the type of affliction the kohen sees (see link below).

Today’s kohen must be in the know about this affliction, as the torah instruct only a kohen to call the shots when in comes to tzoraath. In fact, labeling tzoraath as such is one of two mitzvoth that go exclusively by the kohen’s word as final (the other being erchin, discussed here).

Chazal remind us the kohen is to make himself available to an affected person. Also, the same kohen who labels the affected as tamei (impure) is to be there once the person, item of clothing or home becomes pure and to call it as such (Sifra to פרשת מצורע, Tosefta, Negaim 1:10).

Keeping today’s kohen on his toes

It is our goal to present to today’s kohen how to identify tzoraath, know why it was sent, and the step’s you -as a kohen- need to take to assist the affected person to be cured.

The instruction of the kohen regarding nega tzoraat is a torah obligation placed on the kohen who is knowledgeable in skin nega’im to instruct regarding a home, article of clothing or person afflicted with an apparent tzoraat discoloration;


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