And when the cloud was removed from over the Tent, behold, Miriam was leprous, as white as snow; and Aaron looked upon Miriam; and, behold, she was leprous.

Why a skin problem?

What does that tell us?

1 Answer 1


Tzara'at, the skin affliction, is understood by Chazal as a punishment for lashon hara, evil speech. This article from Bar-Ilan University cites the Sifra (5:7), Avot D'rabbi Natan (version A Chapter 9), Arachin 15b, and several Amoraim.

What was the lashon hara? it was when Miriam and Aharon spoke against Moshe in 12:1. Rashi says on this:

Miriam and Aaron spoke: She spoke first. Therefore, Scripture mentions her first. How did she know that Moses had separated from his wife? [See below] R. Nathan says: Miriam was beside Zipporah when Moses was told that Eldad and Medad were prophesying in the camp. When Zipporah heard this, she said,“Woe to their wives if they are required to prophesy, for they will separate from their wives just my husband separated from me.” From this, Miriam knew [about it] and told Aaron. Now if Miriam, who did not intend to disparage him [Moses] was punished, all the more so someone who [intentionally] disparages his fellow. — [Tanchuma Tzav 13] ([t num 12 1 lr])

  • Ok so evil speech brings on skin affliction? So is skin the symbol for something?(gave it an upvote)
    – Aigle
    Commented Oct 6, 2016 at 14:10
  • @Aigle see here
    – kouty
    Commented Oct 6, 2016 at 14:27
  • @kouty Is there an english version?
    – Aigle
    Commented Oct 6, 2016 at 15:00
  • 1
    @Aigle General concept - A leper must sit outside the camp and people must stay away from him. This is a "measure for measure" punishment. Via lashon hara the person tried to disparage and separate someone else from his community.
    – DanF
    Commented Oct 6, 2016 at 19:07
  • 1
    @Aigle Possible. If you find something credible, you can always post an answer to your own question :-)
    – DanF
    Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 14:32

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