Negaim, Chapter Fourteen, Mishnah Thirteen

 

Introduction

The final mishnah of Negaim deals with one of the rabbis’ favorite subjects—what happens when different things of different categories are mixed up.

 

Mishnah Thirteen

1)      If the sacrifices of two metzoraim were mixed up and after the sacrifice of one of them had been offered one of the metzoraim died: this is what the men of Alexandria asked of Rabbi Joshua.

2)      He answered them: let him assign his possessions to another person, and bring the poor man’s sacrifice.

 

Explanation

Section one: Two rich metzoraim bring their sacrifices and one of them is offered. After this point one of the metzoraim dies. At some point the sacrifices get mixed up. If both metzoraim were alive we could sacrifice all of the animals and just declare that each sacrifice was on behalf of the one who brought it. But if one is dead, the animals of the person who died cannot be offered, because it is always prohibited to offer the sin-offering of someone who has died. The live metzora also can’t simply bring new sacrifices because the sacrifice that was already offered may have been his own. In such a case, were he to bring a new sacrifice it would count as bringing non-sacred animals into the Temple Court, which is prohibited. The men of Alexandria asked Rabbi Joshua what to do in this situation.

Section two: Rabbi Joshua said that what he should do is get rid of all of his property so that he becomes a poor man (hopefully the person he gives it to will give him his money back later). Now he can bring a new sin-offering, because he is a new person and he can bring a new offering. The sin-offering is brought as a doubtful offering, so it is not considered to be a non-sacred animal brought into the Temple Court. 

 

Congratulations! We have completed Tractate Negaim!

As I always write, it is a tradition at this point to thank God for helping us finish learning the tractate and to commit ourselves to going back and relearning it, so that we may not forget it and so that its lessons will stay with us for all of our lives.

For me learning Negaim helped sort out those chapters in Leviticus that I’ve never understood all that well. What has fascinated me about Negaim is how much attention the rabbis pay to a subject that was not only not observed in their own time (this is true for large portions of Kodashim and Toharot) but may not have even been observed during the entire Second Temple period. The entire tractate did not contain even one historical memory of a person who actually had a nega. This just goes to show us that the rabbis main topic of interest is Torah and if something is covered extensively in the Torah, they will pay great attention to it, even if it had no practical implications upon their lives.

Tomorrow our learning continues with Tractate Parah. Good luck to everyone and congratulations on your amazing commitment to learning.

 

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