Skin disease is not precisely ethical or cultic, but it was considered disordered. Systems such as this one in our readings play an important and somewhat invisible role in the cultures where they function. Scholars are not in agreement about what major purposes were served by the system in question here. Some major reality or tension was enacted: perhaps the struggle between life and death, as one scholar thinks (Jacob Milgrom); or alternatively, the tension between what is ordered and disordered, in its place "cleanly" or not (Mary Douglas). To begin to approach such a mystery, we might spend time factoring what many, many complex and conflicting roles and realities are enacted as we participate in sports: physical, technical, ethical, and emotional factors mingle--carefully prescribed, all with economic and social valence. Please note, I am not saying the Jewish legal system is like an athletic event but suggesting that in its complexity, it is about more than its most visible referents (more than about managing skin disease).
There is a lot about religion (our own and especially others’) that we do not understand. To speak of such things carefully and respectfully seems important.
Barbara Green, O.P.