Negaim, Chapter One, Mishnah Three
For a nega to be impure it must be the size of a barleycorn. Our mishnah teaches that negaim of different colors, for instance, part is white like snow and part is like the skin of an egg, can join together to achieve the requisite barleycorn.
1) These four colors combine with each other to declare free [from uncleanness], to certify or to shut up.
2) “To shut up” one who is at the end of the first week;
3) “To declare free [from uncleanness]”, one who is at the end of the second week.
4) “To certify”, one in which a discoloration or white hair arose, by the end of the first week, by the end of the second week or after it had been declared free [from uncleanness].
5) “To certify”, when a spreading arose in it by the end of the first week, by the end of the second week or after it had been declared free [from uncleanness].
6) “To certify”, when all one’s skin turned white after it had been declared free from uncleanness;
7) “To declare free from uncleanness, when all one’s skin turned white after the sign had been certified unclean or after it had been shut up.
8) These are the colors of signs of negaim upon which depend all decisions concerning negaim.
Section one: These are the four colors mentioned in yesterday’s mishnah, two shades of white and two shades of red. They can combine in three different ways, as the mishnah will now proceed to explain.
Section two: “To shut up” refers to putting a person who has shown some signs of having a nega into a sort of limbo status. If the nega doesn’t get worse, then he is not impure, and if it gets worse then he is declared as having a nega. Here are the relevant verses:
4 But if it is a white discoloration on the skin of his body which does not appear to be deeper than the skin and the hair in it has not turned white, the priest shall isolate the affected person for seven days. 5 On the seventh day the priest shall examine him, and if the affection has remained unchanged in color and the disease has not spread on the skin, the priest shall isolate him for another seven days.
Our mishnah teaches that if a person has nega of one color at the beginning of this process and is then “isolated” for a week and then is re-examined and the nega is one of the other colors then he is isolated for a second week. We dont consider it to be a new nega which would make the process start all over again.
Section three: If at the end of the first week of isolation there was a nega the size of a barleycorn that was the color of snow (or any other color), and at the end of the second week it has not spread but it is a different color, we treat it as if it is the same nega. Since the nega did not spread, the priest can declare him pure.
Section four: If half of the nega is one color and half is another color and there is discoloration or a white hair (see Leviticus 13:10) then the person is certified as impure. This is true whether the discoloration or white hair is present at the outset, when the first examination takes place, or at the end of the first week, after one week of isolation, or at the end of the second week, at the end of the second week of isolation.
Section five: If the nega spread, the person is declared impure even if the color of the spreading is different from the original color. This is true no matter when the spreading occurred; at the end of the first week, at the end of the second week, or even later on, after the person has been declared pure.
Section six: If after the person has been declared clean, the scaly affection erupts in the entire nega, the person is impure, even if it is a different color.
Section seven: But if the same thing happens after the person has been either isolated or certified unclean, then he is declared pure (see 13:13).
Section eight: This concludes the first three mishnayot.