National Board Dvar Torah Parshat Metzora!

Posted on April 15, 2016
Asher Gritz, National Ambassador of Social Action, Southern NCSY

Asher Gritz, National Ambassador of Social Action, Southern NCSY

In the merit of the continued safety of Rebbeinu Meir Hillel ben Raizel Esther
In the midst of describing the over 200 mitzvot found in the book of Vayikra, Parshat Metzora sheds light on a very practical and meaningful message concerning Lashon Hara. Let’s start with both the title of the Parsha and the name of a person afflicted with Tzoras: a Metzorah. Unique to a Metzorah is the very fact that the person has their own name rather than being described as having the disease (i.e saying a person has cancer). It must be that the name describes the essence of the person. The Kli Yakir comments that the conjunction Motzei-Rah which means ‘speaking evil about others’ is the root of the name Metzorah. With that in mind, by speaking badly about others, the Metzorah is revealing to the world their rottenness as a human being.

One peculiar thing about the disease Tzoras and the action Lashon Harah is that the Torah does not directly connect Lashon Harah to causing Tzoras. Rather, Chazal ties them together through the cases in Tanach where people like Miriam were afflicted with Tzoras. However, a major way we also find a connection between Tzoras and what causes it is by the offerings that must be given in order to remedy it. These Karbonos remind the sinner of the sin he committed.

First, the two doves that must be given, send a clear message to the Metzorah. According to Rashi, the two ציפורים, or birds, offered by the Metzorah point to one cause of Tzoras, excessive talking the same way a bird chirps, chirps, chirps. In contradiction with our classic perception of Lashon Harah as a premeditated, calculated action, it is quite oftentimes the opposite. Lashon Harah can also comes about by casual excessive talking as depicted in the image of birds naturally chirping. In our own lives it is important that with the gift of speech, we have a meaningful way of communicating, but also an obligation to not misuse it in our overindulgent of talking which inevitably leads to gossip.
Rashi comments further on other components of the Karbonos that a Metzorah offers. He contrasts the cedar wood and reeds, coming to the conclusion that the thick cedar is representative of a haughty and arrogant person who could be punished with Tzoras. On the other hand, the thin reeds represent a humble person who a Metzorah strives to become through honest Teshuva. The Torah is therefore teaching us that it is an important Middah (characteristic) to stay humble in order not to fall victim to our arrogance that ultimately drives us to speak Lashon Harah.

Shabbat Shalom,
Asher Gritz