Kenneth Cohen


Parshat Nasso gives instructions regarding the quarantining of individuals with various types of impurity. It speaks of the one who has come in contact with the dead, known as טמא מת. It also speaks of the זב or זבה, that deal with a flow emitting from their bodies. The third type of impurity is מצורע, or leper.

The order above expresses the severity of each impurity. The טמא מת needed to stay outside of the camp where the Mishkan was situated. The זב and זבה had to stay removed from the Mishkan area as well as the camp of the Levites. The מצורע was most severe and he had to stay outside all three camps. His condition was related to his speaking Lashon Hara, which is viewed as a very severe sin. His quarantine could last for a very long time, until the Kohein gives him a clean bill of health.

The Baal Haturim explained that there is a hint to these three types of impurity from the incident of the serpent and Adam and Eve.

The serpent misused the power of speech, and he is compared to the leper. His sin was most grievous. Eve was punished for her role and was punished with pain in childbirth and having to deal with the unpleasantness of her monthly menstrual flow.

And Adam’s role in this sin, was that because of him, death was decreed to man. Had he not sinned, man would have lived forever.

It is so interesting that what appears to be basic instructional laws, actually have their foundation from earlier biblical stories.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at