White Matter by Donny Manas


Parshat Metzora states that a Metzora (a person inflicted with Tzaraat) must go out of the camp, and “he shall dwell alone.”  Do the words, “He shall dwell alone,” mean that he must be by himself, or is he allowed to stay with other Metzoraim?

The Raavad explains that when a Metzora is sent out he is being excommunicated and therefore is forbidden to sit within four Amot of anyone, including another Metzora.  Tzafnat Pane’ach cites Berachot 54b, where we are told of two people who were Metzoraim who walked together outside the camp.  Rashi (Menachot 95a) states that people who were Metzoraim were sent outside of the whole camp, and they would walk together outside the camp.  Chazal also state that if a Metzora is tied up, another Metzora is allowed to go and untie him.  These citations constitute ample proof that the Metzora is allowed to be in contact with another Metzora, but perhaps the most striking one is in Melachim II (7:3), where the Navi records that four Metzoraim lived together outside of the city.

The Malbim proves that Metzoraim can stay together outside of the camp from the word בדד, alone.  He says that the word גלמוד is a more appropriate word for isolation because the word בדד doesn’t only refer to an individual, but also to a group.  We see this in Bemidbar (23:9), where it says, “Bnai Yisrael shall dwell alone,” referring to many people.  Ail Miluim states that a person who is afflicted with Tzaraat from speaking Lashon Hara may not be in contact even with another Metzora, while a person who suffers from it as a result of a different sin may be in contact with other Metzoraim.  One may utilize this approach to refute the proof cited from Melachim II (7:3).  The Gemara (Sanhedrin 107b) asks who these four people mentioned in Melachim were, and it answers that it was Geichazi and his three sons.  Chazal ask how it was possible that they were able to be together, and they answer similar to the approach of the Ail Miluim that they were afflicted with Tzaraat as a result of a sin, other than Lashon Hara. 


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