Negaim, Chapter Fourteen, Mishnah One

 

Introduction

The final chapter of Negaim deals with the purification of the metzora.

Today’s mishnah is basically a summary of Leviticus 14:1-7:

1 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 2 This shall be the ritual for a leper at the time that he is to be cleansed. When it has been reported to the priest, 3 the priest shall go outside the camp. If the priest sees that the leper has been healed of his scaly affection, 4 the priest shall order two live clean birds, cedar wood, crimson stuff, and hyssop to be brought for him who is to be cleansed. 5 The priest shall order one of the birds slaughtered over fresh water in an earthen vessel; 6 and he shall take the live bird, along with the cedar wood, the crimson stuff, and the hyssop, and dip them together with the live bird in the blood of the bird that was slaughtered over the fresh water. 7 He shall then sprinkle it seven times on him who is to be cleansed of the eruption and cleanse him; and he shall set the live bird free in the open country.

Mishnah One

How would they purify a metzora? 

1)      A new earthenware flask and a quarter of a log of living water was put in it.

2)      Two undomesticated birds are also brought.

3)      One of these was slaughtered over the earthenware vessel and over the living water.

4)      A hole was dug and it was buried in his presence.

5)      Cedarwood, hyssop and scarlet wool were taken and bound together with the remaining ends of the strip of wool. 

a)      Near to these were brought the tips of the wings and the tip of the tail of the second bird.

b)      All were dipped together, and sprinkled upon the back of the metzora’s hand seven times.

i)        Some say that the sprinkling was done upon his forehead. 

6)      In the same manner one would sprinkle on the lintel of a house from the outside.

 

Explanation

Section one: The new vessel was used to ensure its purity.

Section two: The birds referred to in v. 4 must be wild birds.

Section three: See v. 5.

Section four: The bird was buried so that no one would eat it and no one would think that someone had eaten it. It is forbidden to derive benefit from this bird (see Temurah 7:4).

Section five: See v. 6. According to the rabbis, the live bird is not bound with the cedarwood, hyssop and scarlet wool. Rather, it is placed next to them. Then they are all dipped together into the blood of the live bird and sprinkled onto the metzora (v. 7). There is a dispute about whether the blood is sprinkled onto the back of his hand or onto his forehead.

Section six: The same process is done for a house that has a nega (see Leviticus 14:51). 

  

 

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