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This week’s Torah portion is Tazria-Metsora, which, among other things, describes the priests’ attention to and treatment (not medical treatment, but social treatment) of people who had leprosy. There is a lot of scholarly disagreement over whether the skin affliction described in the Torah was leprosy, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is that the afflicted people were isolated.
Mishna Megillah 1:7, says,
The difference between a quarantined leper, i.e.,
one examined by a priest who found his symptoms to be
inconclusive, and who must therefore remain in
isolation for a period of up to two weeks waiting to
see if conclusive symptoms develop; and a confirmed
leper, i.e., one whose symptoms were conclusive
and the priest declared him an absolute leper, is
only with regard to letting the hair on one’s head
grow wild and rending one’s garments. A confirmed
leper is obligated to let the hair on his head grow
wild and rend his garments; a quarantined leper is not.
People in ancient times needed and wanted to know how to avoid lepers. Healthy people liked that confirmed lepers wore signs that advertised their illness. And that brings to mind covid passports.
There is a lot of negative talk about covid passports. The people who criticize the covid passports talk about un-vaccinated people being second-class citizens.
This coronavirus plague is deadly. You need to know how to differentiate between people who can spread covid-19 and who can’t spread covid-19, especially when people are jammed into close quarters, like an airplane or an arena or stadium or a restaurant. It is not feasible to have un-vaccinated people let their hair grow wild and tear their clothes, but a sign of full vaccination will be a substitute.
In most school districts, children will not be admitted to school without a proof of vaccination to most childhood diseases. You don’t want your children to go to school with children who are not vaccinated against measles, polio, chicken pox, and mumps. And you don’t want your children to go to school when they could spread measles, polio, chicken pox, and mumps. If your children are vaccinated (barring health issues), that vaccination is for the common good.
The ancients knew how to protect society from a dreaded disease that was prevalent. We should adopt and adapt their methods to protect society today for the common good.