Thursday, September 29, 2005


צרעת הבית – "Leprosy of the House"

Just what "leprosy of the house" is is a matter of age-old discussion.

Evidently the phenomenon was never clear because when one discovered what they thought was clearly צרעת הבית in their house during the time that the כהנים treated the affliction, they had to go to the כהן and say that it *seemed* to them that there was a plague in the house. As we learn: In Parshat Metzora (Lev. 14:35) we read with regard to the affliction of Tzara'at Habayit ("leprosy of the house") the following modus operandi: He to whom the building belongs shall come and tell the Priest, saying 'like an affliction appears appears in my house.' Rashi there seizes on the anomalous "like" phrasing and explicates: "Even if he is a scholar who knows it certainly to be an affliction , he should not determine the matter unequivocally to say 'an affliction, rather, 'like an affliction appears.' "

Some might think that it is merely a figurative, reifying description of a spiritual plague that sets into a home when its inhabitants sinned, particularly engaged in slander.

Some might think that the phenomenon once existed but no longer does.

Some might think that it is a matter beyond our current ability to understand.

I am not a כהן and it is certainly not my place to make a diagnosis, but when I saw the article below I said to myself: That might be what צרעת הבית ("leprosy of the house") is.

It may be a species of צרעת הבית that does not have to be diagnosed by a כהן, but which is an undeniable signal that something is very, very spiritually wrong that we can all see for ourselves.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel

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