What is the "leprosy" that the Torah speaks about? Do the laws of leprosy apply today? What does the Hebrew word for "leprosy" mean?
The conditions that are translated as "leprosy" in Lev. 13-15 don't
resemble the disease that is now called leprosy. The laws of "leprosy" are complex, and are not in effect nowadays because we no longer have the expertise to identify the conditions that the Torah is referring to. Note that these conditions include "leprous" outbreaks in garments (Lev.13:47-59) and houses (Lev.14: 33-53). Apparently "leprosy" is some kind of fungus infection.
The Hebrew word for "leprosy" is TZARA'AS. It may be related to the
word TZARAH, which means "trouble" or "affliction". A Midrashic
explanation is that TZARA'AS is a punishment for slander - "moTZi
shem RA". I have also heard (from my father) the suggestion that a
person who is "too busy" to do mitzvos (short of time - "TZAR 'ES")
is also deserving of the punishment of TZARA'AS.
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