Jewish Dermatology

Thursday, 27 March, 2014 - 11:10 am



When discussing the “magical” skin disorder known as tzoraat (leprosy), an affliction that appeared on people who transgressed the prohibition against gossip in the times of the Temple, we are taught that it was only someone of Kohen lineage who could declare the person ritually impure.

What’s unusual is that the criteria for who was allowed to determine if a spot found was actuallytzoraat, had nothing to do with who was most well versed in the laws, or who was the greatest scholar in order to ensure an accurate verdict. Rather, all that was required was a Kohen. And if the only Kohen available was a child who knew nothing about what did or did not constitute tzoraat, a person who was well versed would tell the Kohen child and that Kohen child would make the declaration.

This might seem needlessly ceremonial, however, the reason this task was given to the Kohen is because it was the Kohanim who were given the job to bless the Jewish people, with the words ‘to bless the people of Israel, with love’. A Kohen is endowed with an additional measure of the attribute of kindness in order to do his job with love, and it is that love that is required in order to declare a fellow Jew ritually impure with all the ramifications that came along.

His innate love will ensure that he does not misjudge a fellow Jew, he will leave no stone unturned and will do all he can to try to find a way for the verdict to be positive. And when the outcome was negative, you could be sure that it was so in the truest sense.

Often we encounter people or situations that we find unjust or wanting of improvementbefore we reach out to rebuke another or try to rectify a situation we need to look inside ourselves and ensure that that rebuke is coming from a place of love. Our job is not to highlight another’s wrongdoings, but if the situation arises we are only permitted to do so if our intentions are coming with the love of a Kohen.

Have a fabulous week,


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