Torah Methodology #9 - Yatzah liton to'an echad shehu k'inyano…

“Kol davar shehayah b'klal v'yatzah liton to'an echad shehu k'inyano, yatzah l'hakeil v'lo l'hachamir” - If something in a general category is singled out to discuss something that is similar to the category, then it is being singled out to be lenient and not to be stringent.

To illustrate this methodology, let us turn to Leviticus 13:18-28, which discusses the spiritual uncleanliness of certain blemishes on one's flesh. If the skin has a burn or an inflammation, there is a leniency in that they can be declared ritually clean after a week instead of after two weeks. Since these cases were singled out for a leniency, the general stringency that healthy-looking flesh in a person completely covered in tzaraas will render a person impure (in verse 13:15) cannot be applied to them.

Another example can be found in Exodus chapter 21. Verse 12 tells us that one who kills another person is subject to the death penalty. Verse 13 says that one who killed by accident must go into exile in a city of refuge. Since the accidental murderer was singled out, it is to be lenient (exile instead of the death penalty) and not to be stringent (exile followed by the death penalty).