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A Mysterious Affliction

Vayikra 13-14 speaks at length about the various forms of tzara'at, the impurity caused thereby, and the process by which the afflicted is purified.  Despite the many details, however, the malady remains very much in the realm of the unknown: 

Biblical Cases of Tzara'at

Several narratives in Tanakh speak of someone who is afflicted by tzara'at and might shed light on the nature of the affliction:

What do these stories have to teach about the malady and why someone might be plagued by it?  In some of the cases, it is explicit that the malady is Divinely sent as punishment, but in others the cause in unknown, and potentially a natural occurrence.

Diagnosis of Impurity

Much of Vayikra 13 is devoted to a discussion of how to determine if the afflicted person is in fact impure, and how he should be treated once he is so labelled.  In addition to the many difficulties involved in understanding the technical details mentioned, several other aspects of the process raise questions as well:

The Process of Purification

The purification rituals are similarly difficult to understand: