The Torah details the process through which a metzora – someone afflicted with the skin disease tzara’at – purified him/herself after the period of isolation and the healing of the affliction. This involved a Kohen taking two birds, cedar wood, a crimson thread and hyssop. The Kohen would slaughter one of the birds and – using the wood, thread and hyssop together in a bundle – sprinkle its blood seven times on the metzora.

The metzora would also bring three animal offerings and three meal offerings. A metzora who could not afford three animal offerings could instead bring one animal offering, one meal offering and two birds.

Tzara’at also affected houses. The house owner would report the suspicious signs to a Kohen. The house would be evacuated before the Kohen’s arrival. If the Kohen saw a deep green or deep red ‘affliction’, he would order the house to be quarantined for a week. He would then re-inspect the house. If the affliction had spread, the infected stones would be removed and replaced. If the affliction nevertheless returned, the house would be demolished. However, if replacing the stones solved the problem, the Kohen would declare the house tahor (ritually pure).

The Torah lists specific circumstances that would cause a man to be considered tameh (ritually impure) and details the purification procedure. A similar set of laws is listed for a woman.

The Torah emphasises the importance of adhering to the laws of tumah and taharah, in particular warning about the severe punishment for entering the Mishkan (Tabernacle) in a state of impurity.

Skip to content