why is a person afflicted with tzarat not considered tamei if it is from head to toe (Lev.13:12).

It would certainly seem like a kal v'chomer (a fortiori), namely if one has this tzarat rash he is considered afflicted and in need of quarantining all the more so if it is all over his body from head to toe.

Solomon found the rules of the parah aduma (red heifer) exceptionally difficult to understand (Kohelles Rabba 7:23). this case also seems difficult to understand logically.

  • Did you try checking commentaries on that verse? Please let us know what you've checked so we don't duplicate your efforts.
    – Double AA
    Apr 8, 2016 at 6:18
  • @DoubleAA yes..
    – ray
    Apr 8, 2016 at 7:37
  • I saw a comment (I think in the art-scroll stone chumash) that the purpose of the tzaraat affliction is to bring the person to do teshuvah, but if someone is totally covered it means there are no "good" patches and teshuvah is beyond their capability so exiling them is pointless.
    – CashCow
    Apr 8, 2016 at 8:44
  • @ray Yes to what?
    – Double AA
    Apr 8, 2016 at 14:29

2 Answers 2


Rav Ozer Alport addresses this question in his weekly parsha sheet.

"The Shaarei Simcha answers that people who are well-known for their evil ways will have a difficult time trying to ensnare innocent, unsuspecting victims. On the other hand, those people whose wickedness is concealed represent a much greater threat. One of the purposes of tzara'as is to separate the gossipmonger from society to protect them from his negative influence. However, if somebody's entire body is covered with tzara'as, it will be plain to all that he is to be avoided, and there is therefore no need to rule him impure and distance him from others. Alternatively, Rav Reuven Zelig Bengis explains that the purpose of tzara'as is to tell a person that he has sinned and to motivate him to approach the Kohen who will teach him how to examine and correct his ways. If he doesn't do so and the tzara'as continues to spread, this proves to him that he still has work to do. If, however, the tzara'as has already spread and covered his entire body before he even approaches the Kohen, he will become despondent if he is ruled impure, thereby defeating the purpose. As a result, the Torah rules that he is pure."



My Rebbe, Rabbi Yochanan Zweig, explains as follows.

Tzara’as is primarily a punishment for Lashon Hara. Since we know that Hashem punishes measure for measure, how is Tzara’as an appropriate punishment for Lashon Hara? He explains that when one speaks Lashon Hara, he takes one tiny aspect of a person, one incident which he witnessed, and he pulls it out of context, blows it out of proportion, and ultimately defines the entire person based on that one incident. Therefore he’s punished with Tzara’as, a tiny blotch on his skin which defines him as a Metzora. Accordingly, if his entire skin was covered with what appears to be Tzara’as, it defeats its own purpose and therefore cannot possibly be Tzara’as.

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