Torah Study Notes 4-16-16

Page 754 of Plaut

These malaise’s were thought to have a spiritual basis – rather than medical. Here we have plagues in the house and how it can affect you spiritually. This could be mold, blight or fungus that discolors the plaster, etc.

14:33 The priest orders the house cleared and examines it. Red and green streaks – close up for seven days. Scraped and dumped at a location for impure contaminants. (Much like an environmental cleanup today.).  Why is God doing this to the owners? It is inflicted upon them. The home is contaminated by a transgression. Perhaps a lack of hospitality to the stranger or even the presence of an idol. Bob R: The basement downstairs at VT had mold and it was very disturbing because we had children going to school there. Part of the cleansing is acknowledging the problem and be willing to address it. RB: This is also a social justice issue. Are you responsible only for what you see and know that is close to you? Or now that we know what is going on elsewhere in the world are we responsible for them as well? LL Latent and patent defects in the sale of a house are the distinctions made in the law. Note  that the structure is not “impure” until the priest declares it so. This provides for an opportunity to clear out the furniture – and the people – so they are not also declared impure. This all has the effect of giving the priest more power.  There was clearly an opportunity for corruption here.

14:33   If the plague breaks out again in the house… the house shall be torn down. If you enter you are impure and must be washed. Purification procedure described. See hand out of thoughts from Talmud and Midrash. The hoarder is exposed. If one gets a plague it has to do with one’s previous conduct. If you are a hoarder and will not share – the plague exposes you. LL: Protestant denominations such as the Puritans elevated this concept to a whole new level. If you were poor or unsuccessful it was because one had sinned in terms of being slothful. As a general rule hard work would be rewarded.

15:1 Abnormal discharge from a man’s member. Impure!! Don’t touch him. Bathe! Wash up! Different rules for normal discharges. Seven days once it clears up. Make a purgation and a burnt offering.

Even after regular intercourse there has to be a period of purification. Note that modern mikvas have a separate entrance.   Next: Woman’s discharges!

Perhaps not surprisingly there does not appear to be an analogous Haftarah portion for this text.

See Essays at Plaut page 760. Early Talmudic scholars have asserted that this condition of tzara-at in dwellings was virtually unknown in Israel. Which makes sense given the dry air and strong sunshine. The ritual for purifying a house is very similar to that prescribed for a human being.

For additional commentary see:

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