brotherinlaw (brotherinlaw) wrote,

Deut. 24:8-9

From Ki Tetzei:

24:8. Be cautious regarding the lesion of tzara'ath, to observe meticulously and you shall do according to all that the Levite priests instruct you; as I have commanded them, [so shall you] observe to do.

הִשָּׁמֶר בְּנֶגַע הַצָּרַעַת לִשְׁמֹר מְאֹד וְלַעֲשׂוֹת כְּכֹל אֲשֶׁר יוֹרוּ אֶתְכֶם הַכֹּהֲנִים הַלְוִיִּם כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוִּיתִם תִּשְׁמְרוּ לַעֲשׂוֹת

Be cautious regarding the lesion of tzara’ath: that you do not remove any of the signs of uncleanness [e.g., by peeling off the skin], and that you do not cut off a bahereth, bright spot. — [Sifrei 24:140, Mak. 22a]

according to all that [the Levite kohanim] instruct you: whether to quarantine [the person with tzara’ath], whether to make a decisive diagnosis [of tzara’ath], or whether to declare him clean.

24:9. Remember what the Lord, your God, did to Miriam on the way, when you went out of Egypt.

זָכוֹר אֵת אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ לְמִרְיָם בַּדֶּרֶךְ בְּצֵאתְכֶם מִמִּצְרָיִם

Remember what the Lord, your God, did to Miriam: If you wish to take precautions against being stricken with tzara’ath, then do not speak לָשׁוֹן הָרַע [slander, derogatory remarks]. Remember what was done to Miriam, who spoke against her brother [Moses] and was stricken with lesions [of tzara’ath] (see Num. 12:1-16). - [Sifrei 24: 141]

[Although it is far from being an exception, these two verses (seem to) stand conspicuously out of context; and the latter one (verse 9 above) is even out of the context of the former (verse 8): what does God's punishment of Miriam with tzaraat have to do with being “assuredly watchful” ( הִשָּׁמֶר ... לִשְׁמֹר מְאֹד , verse 8) for signs of tzaraat? (Rashi does offer a solution but on an “elementary level,” so that the entire passage becomes an injunction to watch against lashon hara; this should be accepted but seems insufficient.) But if seen in the light of Rebbe Schneerson's interpretations as given in Rochel Holzkenner, the implied stress may be on (societal) evil having to be exposed ( הִשָּׁמֶר ... לִשְׁמֹר מְאֹד ), as God exposed it with Miriam (verse 9); and this suites the broader context of the commandments that expose societal evils.]


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