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Tazria - Shishi

Get Outta Town!

Losing hair is normal and doesn't make one ritually unclean, but if a bald spot includes a pink discoloration, it might be tzaraas. The kohein will examine him and determine accordingly.

If a person is declared unclean with tzaraas, he must tear his clothes and let his hair grow, like a mourner. He must cover his face and call out "Unclean!" as a warning to others. He'll have to live outside the camp until he heals. (This is "middah k'neged middah," "measure for measure." Since tzaraas is a spiritual punishment for gossip, which separates people, the offender is himself separated from others. See Rashi on 13:46, citing Talmud Arachin 16b.)

Tzaraas could appear on objects other than a person. It could appear on garments of leather, wool or linen. If a bright red or green spot appeared on such an item, it must be shown to a kohein. After examining the garment, the kohein would quarantine it for a week. If the mark increased, it's affected by tzaraas and unclean. Such a garment was unsalvageable and had to be burned.

If the mark did not increase during its week quarantine, the kohein would have it scrubbed and put aside for another week.

Author: Rabbi Jack Abramowitz