Tzâ•raꞋat was not leprosy!


Like other pâ•râsh•ōtꞋ, the title is taken from the first line; a מְּצֹרָע (mᵊtzōr•âꞋ) is: “one who has צָרַעַת (tzâ•raꞋat), not a leper.”

Confusing tzâ•raꞋat with leprosy is primarily due to Hellenizing; namely, the rendering of the Hellenist perception in LXX as λεπρα (lepra, from lepros; leprosy).

“R’ Hirsch demonstrates at length and conclusively that ‘[equating tzâ•raꞋat to leprosy is] completely erroneous. Very briefly, he shows that the symptoms of tzâ•raꞋat, as outlined in [this week’s portion ], are far different than those of leprosy” (“Vayikra [sic],” Artscroll).

The symptoms given in Tanakh do not match leprosy.

“By modern scientific standards, the descriptions of tzâ•raꞋat indicate more than one type of affliction… Tzâ•raꞋat derives from the verb צֹרַע, which, in turn, parallels the Arabic “sara’a, (= he threw to the ground, threw down), sar` (= epilepsy), [and Old South Arabic] צרע(= to throw down, humiliate)” (Klein’s Etymological Dictionary for Readers of English, p.557).

“This malady periodically threw the victim to the ground, was often triggered by flickering light – as from a fire – and, if not rescued quickly from the fire, resulted in burn injuries that can resemble the symptoms of leprosy, yet from an entirely unrelated cause. Photos are too gruesome to include here, but readers who wish can Google photos of leprosy and burn victims.”