Over the past week, we have moved from learning about negaim that affect the skin to those that are inside inflammations or burns and finally with the beginning of the tenth perek, we learn about netakim. What exactly is a netek?
The Mishnah Achrona explains that the word netek means detached. A netek therefore refers to a small bald patch in the beard or head. Note however that if all the hair at the front or back of the head falls out then we can be dealing with different types of negaim – karachat or gabachat. A netek is different to a karachat and gabachat in a number of ways. A karachat and gabachat is much like a regular nega except that two white is not a siman. A netek however is not limited to the four shades of white and the two simanim of tumah are the netek spreading or if it develops two yellow hairs.
The Mishnah Achrona cites the Tosefta that teaches that five different types of negaim can affects one head. Reviewing the Tosfefta is important to solidify our understanding of the different negaim.
In the first instance, before any hair has grown on the head or face, it is treated like regular skin and is affected by regular negaim. Once hair grows, then the region can be affected by a netek or karachat and gabachat. If a schin and michva develops in that region, then two different negaim could develop with the appearance of a baheret in the shchin or michva.
Returning to the netek, every other type of nega involves a change in color. Is the same true for a netek? Does the skin need to change color or is it simply a bald patch? The pasuk reads: “The Kohen shall look at the affliction and behold, its appearance is deeper than the skin, and with it is weak, golden hair; the Kohen shall declare him tameh; it is a netek, a tzaraat of the head or the beard”. A simple reading of the pasuk implies a change in color is required. The Tosfot Yom Tov however cites the Torat Kohanim that understands that the pasuk is creating a legal connection with regular negaim: since a beheret is formed from shamayim, we learn that we disregard a netek that was created by a person plucking his own hairs.
The Tosfot Yom Tov summarises the different positions that debate this point. The Rambam and Rash understand that a change in color is not required consistant with the Torat Kohanim. The Korban Aharon however does require a change. The Raavad cites the Tosefta as another position that argues against the Torat Kohanim and requires a change in the skin’s appearance.
What if a baheret develops inside a netek?
The Bartenura comments that “a netek does not become tameh with the four shades of white like a nega affecting the skin, rather it becomes tameh from all colors.” The Mishnah Achrona understands from the Rash that if a Baheret develops in the netek then it is treated like a baheret that develops on regular skin. In other words, it is not a netek and two yellow hairs is not a siman. However it is a baheret and two white hairs would be the siman. He however cites the Kesef Mishnah and Tosfot Yom Tov that argue a netek does not become tameh at all if the revealed skin is the color of a baheret.
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