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Ritual Impurity and Disease

12 October 2020

Reflections on Biblical ‘Analogies’ in the COVID Era

In the midst of global disaster, Jewish and Christian communities often turn to the pages of the Hebrew Bible for reflection, inspiration, humour, and instruction. In the COVID era, the biblical themes of social distancing, quarantine, and ritual impurity have become recurrent sources for further recollection and reading. It has become especially common to summon the biblical laws addressing ‘disease’ and ‘quarantine’ and ‘isolation’ in recent months. Biblical instructions concerning the quarantine and isolation of ‘leprosy’ (hereafter ‘lepra’ when speaking of the biblical condition)1 has become a particularly pronounced theme in a number of recent news articles, essays, and posts covering the COVID crisis.

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