Is Leviticus’s Skin Fascination about Judgmental Exclusion or Universal Healthcare?

May 3, 2017

Like other Torah topics including sacrifice, slavery, and creation, Leviticus's preoccupation with skin disorders offends many, prompting outrage and elaborate comparisons to historical examples of horror and immorality.  And like those earlier topics, it's as if people aren't reading the Torah, but are projecting their own sensitivities -- an inevitable part of the hermeneutical circle of reading, but one which tells us more, sometimes, about the reader's sensitivities than about the Torah message.  I discuss prominent, recent views of Tsarat skin disorders that sees in the Torah the judgmentalism of the insensitive medical establishment, the insensitive observer of a transgender individual, even the Nazi, and I counter with the fact that these readings fail to see the main point of the "out of the camp treatment" being the reintegration of these individuals back into the camp through the declaration of full purity by the head priests/kohanim.  This changes everything.  If anything, the Torah is providing a fairly obvious example of universal health care --paid for by public tithing-- right before our eyes.  Why can't we see it (in a section all about seeing)?

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