The Parshah of Tazria continues the discussion (begun in the previous Parshah of Shemini) of the laws of tum’ah v’taharah, ritual impurity and purity.

A woman who shall seed and give birth to a male child shall be tamei seven days; as in the days of her menstrual period shall she be “impure.”

On the eighth day, the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.

She shall then continue in the blood of her purifying for thirty-three days: she shall touch no holy thing, nor come into the Sanctuary, until the days of her purifying are fulfilled.

The birth of a daughter renders her mother ritually impure for fourteen days, followed by sixty-six days of “pure blood” (ordinarily a discharge of blood renders a woman ritually impure, but in these days it does not).

At the conclusion of these periods—a total of forty days for the birth of a boy and eighty days for the birth of a girl—the mother brings two offerings: a lamb for an ascending offering, and a pigeon or turtledove for a sin offering. If she is poor and cannot afford a lamb, she brings a bird instead.

The Laws of Tzaraat

A person to whom shall occur in the skin of his flesh a se’eit, sapachat or baheret (patches of varying degrees of whiteness), and it be on the skin of his flesh the plague of tzaraat (“leprosy”)—he shall be brought to Aaron the priest, or to one of his sons the priests.

The priest shall see the plague on the skin of his flesh: if the hair in the plague has turned white, and the plague is deeper in appearance than the skin of his flesh, it is a plague of tzaraat, and the priest shall see it and pronounce him tamei.

If, however, the white patch “is not deeper in appearance than the skin, and the hair did not turn white,” the priest should order the afflicted person to be quarantined for seven days. If at the end of the seven days the white patch has spread, the person is pronounced ritually impure; if it has not, the afflicted person is sequestered for an additional seven days.

The priest shall see him again on the seventh day. And, behold, if the plague is somewhat dimmer, and the plague did not spread in the skin, the priest shall pronounce him pure—it is just a scab. He shall then wash his clothes and be pure.

But if the scab spread in the skin . . . then the priest shall pronounce him unclean; it is tzaraat.

However,

If the tzaraat sprouts on the skin, and the tzaraat covers all the skin of the one who has the plague from his head to his foot, as far as the priest can see . . . it is all turned white: he is pure.

A third sign of tzaraat (in addition to hairs on the afflicted area having turned white, or the white patch spreading following the quarantine) is the appearance of “live” (i.e., healthy) flesh inside the afflicted area.

Patches appearing on the hair-covered parts of the head or face are rendered impure by yellow, rather than white, hairs. Different rules apply to patches appearing on healed wounds or burns.

The Leper

The tzarua in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be torn, and the hair of his head shall grow long, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and call out: “Unclean! Unclean!”

All the days during which the plague shall be in him, he shall be impure; he is tamei. He shall dwell alone; outside the camp shall his habitation be.

Such is his condition until he is healed of his affliction and undergoes the purification process to be described in the next Parshah, Metzora.

The Contaminated Garment

Garments, too, can be afflicted with tzaraat:

And the garment in which there is the plague of tzaraat, whether it is a woolen garment or a linen garment, or in the warp or the woof . . . or in a leather garment, or in anything made of leather . . .

If the plague is greenish or reddish in the garment . . . it is a plague of tzaraat, and shall be shown to the priest.

The priest shall look at the plague, and quarantine [the object that has] the plague for seven days. . . . If the plague spreads . . . he shall burn that garment . . . for it is a malignant tzaraat; it shall be burnt in fire . . .

But if the priest looks, and behold, the plague is somewhat dimmer after it was washed, then he shall tear it out of the garment. . . . [If it does not return, and] the plague departs from it, then it shall be washed a second time and shall be ritually pure.

This is the law of the plague of tzaraat in a garment of wool or linen, or in the warp or the woof, or anything of leather, to pronounce it tahor (ritually pure), or to pronounce it tamei (ritually impure).