- One of the signs of the Biblical disease of leprosy "tzara'at" is the
appearance of two white hairs in a designated area. In an interesting quirk,
if all the hairs in that area turn white, then the Priest ("Kohen") is instructed to diagnose
it as not related to "tzara'at". Similarly, if the majority of the Supreme Biblical Court "Sanhedrin" find an
individual guilty of a capital offense then the offender is executed, but if the
vote is unanimous then the individual is set free. This is in stark
contradistinction to the jury system, which requires a unanimous vote to convict.
Why would Jewish law dismiss the charges against someone whose guilt was so obvious? What assumptions about
diversity or the legal process form the foundation for discouraging unanimity?
What can be said about a process which leads to a conclusion about which there is
- The Rabbis associate Biblical leprosy "tzara'at" to sins of speech,
particularly "lashon hara" - speaking evil of another. Is it always improper to
speak negatively about someone else? If a child is expelled from one school because
of violent behavior, does the new school have a right to know of the potential
dangers, or does the prohibition of "lashon hara" mandate silence? What should an
employer say when called for a reference about a former employee who was
dismissed for incompetence?
link to lookstein.org