After childbirth, a woman would wait several weeks before bringing an elevation offering (olah) and a sin offering (chatat). A baby boy is circumcised on the eighth day after birth, even if that falls on a Shabbat. God told Moshe and Aharon that someone whose skin appeared to indicate a particular type of skin disease (tzara’at) would have to show the blemish to a Kohen. The Kohen would evaluate and decide if the affliction was clearly tzara’at, thus rendering the person impure (tameh). If the case was unclear, the Kohen would quarantine the person for seven days.

After the first period of quarantine, the Kohen would re-inspect the blemish. Sometimes a second seven-day period was necessary. Eventually the Kohen would declare whether the person was tameh or tahor (pure).

Even if a wound looked like tzara’at, it could not be judged as such until after it was fully healed and the normal inspection procedure by the Kohen had been carried out.

It was also possible for tzara’at to develop from a burn. However, a burn and a blemish that were adjacent to one another could not combine together to form the minimum size needed to render an affliction as tzara’at.

Tzara’at could erupt on the scalp or on the beard area, causing a loss of hair. The signs of affliction were two golden hairs appearing after the onset of baldness.

A slightly different form of tzara’at is detailed, which caused a more substantial loss of hair. A metzora (one who has been contaminated with tzara’at) was sent outside of the camp and had to tear their garments. Tzara’at could also infect clothing. A suspected garment was set apart before the Kohen made a ruling about whether it was tameh. If it was declared tameh, the garment was burnt.

Skip to content