Why does the Torah outline many different degrees of impurity טומאה with different purification methods?

You have corpse-impurity which requires sprinkling with the water of the red heifer during a seven-day waiting period. Beyond that, there are multiple levels of impurity which require possibly waiting some amount of time and then immersion in a mikveh (or immersion in the mikveh and then waiting some amount of time) for purification.

Why is there a need for all of these different types of ritual impurity and purification methods? What is the difference between them that causes them to be treated differently?

  • 1
    Frankly I don't think there are that many. Certainly not out of proportion with the level of detail in other areas of Halakha. If you'd grown up keeping it you'd probably agree like how Davening doesn't seem too complicated to you.
    – Double AA
    Jun 22, 2018 at 17:22
  • @DoubleAA I find the halachos related to davening (and other things) super complicated. I think "why are there so many different brachos on food" is a fantastic question. But many of those halachos are rabbinic in nature.
    – Daniel
    Jun 22, 2018 at 17:29
  • 1
    I didn't say those aren't complicated. Just why is this not a dupe of judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/31831/… ? You seem to be asking about why the laws of purity are especially complicated and I don't see that they are.
    – Double AA
    Jun 22, 2018 at 17:36
  • Notably there are also plenty of degrees of holiness, which is pretty parallel.
    – Double AA
    Jun 22, 2018 at 17:53

1 Answer 1


Guide for the Perplexed 3:47

The easier the diffusion of uncleanliness is, the more difficult and the more retarded is its purification. Most easily is uncleanliness communicated by the dead body to those who are under the same roof, especially to relatives. The purification can only be completed by means of the ashes of the red heifer, however scarce it may be, and only in seven days (Num. xix. 11). The uncleanness caused by a woman having running issue or during her separation is more frequent than that caused by contact with unclean objects: seven days are therefore required for their purification (Lev. xv. 19, 28), whilst those that touch them are only unclean one day (ibid. vii. 18). Males or females that are unclean through running issue, and a woman after childbirth, must in addition bring a sacrifice, because their uncleanness occurs less frequently than that of women in their separation. (Friedlander translation)

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