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Friday, April 24

The Weekly Shtikle - Tazria / Metzora

Please continue to daven for Chaim Yitzchak ben Baila, Refael Elchanan Shimon ben Baila and Chaim Aryeh Z'ev ben Aidel besoch sh'ar cholei Yisrael.


One would have to say that if a rav is looking to connect the parsha to the present global situation in which most of us find ourselves in some degree of isolation, this week is pretty much a freebie. The parallels with the metzora procedure are nothing short of obvious. There are even some commentaries that suggest that although the tzara'as is brought on as a Divine punishment for specific sins, it is still contagious. However, there is a discussion regarding the laws of the metzora which draw even more intriguing connections.


We are told (13:46) that the metzora must be sent outside of the camps and must dwell alone, "badad yeisheiv." The commentaries note that tzara'as comes as a punishment for lashon hara, which comes as a result of engaging in idle chatter with one's friends and others. Therefore, the punishment is fitting that the metzora must be excommunicated so he cannot converse with his friends and thus, surely cannot tell any more lashon hara. This will give the opportunity to examine his sins and repent. According to this reasoning, it would seem that the metzora should be in total solitary confinement, without even the company of other metzoraim. This, however, is not so clear.


The first source that must be considered is an incident in Navi which is, in fact, the haftarah for parshas Metzora which we will not be reading this year, as is often the case. In Melachim II 7:3 we are told that there were four metzoraim at the gateway. In the events that ensue it is clear that these men were together. However, this a conclusive proof one way or the other for a number of reasons. First, Chaza"l (Sotah 47a, Sanhedrin 107b) tell us that these four men were Geichazi and his sons. In the sefer Nachalas Shimon (by Rabbi Shimon Krasner of Ner Yisroel) it is pointed out that if a metzora would require absolute solitary confinement it would be because it follows the laws of nidui, excommunication, in which no one may be within four amos of the menudeh. (Indeed, four amos is likely not far off from the six feet or two metres that have been mandated for physical distancing.) However, in the Shulchan Aruch (YD 334:2) it is stated clearly that even one who is in nidui may be with his wife and kids. Additionally, many commentaries point out that this particular instance of tzara'as is anomalous in that it was the result of a curse from Elisha that the tzara'as of Na'aman (see the haftarah of Tazria which is read even less often, just over 16% of all years) should inflict Geichazi and his sons.

Rashi, on the words "badad yeisheiv" writes that other temai'im should not dwell with him. This might seem to indicate that he does in fact require solitary confinement. However, Rashi's intent is made more clear in his commentary on the gemara in Pesachim (67a) which Rashi is quoting here. There it is clear that the meaning is that other "types" of temai'im such as zav and temei meis may not dwell with the metzora but it would seem that other metzoraim are allowed to dwell with him.

On this note, one of the more interesting stories I've read recently was that of a completely kosher minyan and dancing over Pesach – in a designated Coronavirus hotel where everyone was already ill with the virus.

Nachalas Shimon on Melachim II deals with this issue at length and the conclusion is that it seems to be permissible. Tzafnas Panei'ach, as well, reaches the conclusion that it is allowed. Malbim here also writes that a metzora may dwell with other metzoraim and he aligns this approach with the precise definition of the word badad, explaining that it implies a separation but not an absolute confinement for we see the word badad referring to an entire nation at once (Bemidbar 23:9).

Nevertheless, the sefer Minchah Belulah writes that metzoraim may not dwell with each other for they are not equals.

Have a chodesh tov and good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:

Al Pi Cheshbon: Counting the Omer in Different Bases
Dikdukian: White Hair

Dikdukian: Meaining of "kibus" by Eliyahu Levin

Dikdukian: Various Dikduk Observations by Eliyahu Levin

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