This is a hard Parshah for me as, actually, most of the Parashot in Leviticus – Vayikra.
I am going to bring you another commentary from a source that is not that well-known (I think). I subscribe to a newsletter by a Rabbi Ben Zion Spitz, the former Chief Rabbi of Uruguay.
He brings an interesting commentary based on Rabbeinu Bechaye:
The Torah spends several chapters on the ritual treatment of a biblical spiritual malady called “Tzaraat” popularly mistranslated as leprosy. The person who suffered from the Tzaraat, called a “Metzora“, while not a leper, did suffer from an unusual skin condition that was cured in biblical times by exile from the camp and then a ritual purification and sacrifice process.
Most rabbinic commentators explain that the malady of Tzaraat affected primarily those guilty of gossiping. Gossiping was so onerous a crime that God Himself would alter the laws of nature and personally intervene to strike the offending gossiper with this strange and unusual malady.
Rabbeinu Bechaye on Leviticus 14:2 (Metzora) quotes the Talmud that states that gossiping is so horrendous that it is actually worse than murder, illicit relations and idolatry COMBINED.
I always thought this Talmudic dictum somewhat of an exaggeration, until I had the misfortune to witness first-hand the destruction caused by gossip. It has to do with cutting bonds.
Murder is the cutting of the bond of life; cutting off or destroying the connection between a body and a soul.
Illicit relations is the cutting of the bond of family. Adulterers destroy the bond between a husband and wife, sabotaging that basic unit of society.
Idolatry is the cutting of the bond with God. Idolaters sever the connection between man and the divine.
Then why is gossiping worse than all three of the cardinal sins put together? Because a gossiper destroys all of these bonds, and more. Gossip destroys the bonds of self, of family, of faith, and of community. It is a betrayal of the trust that is inherent in any group, destroying all the bonds that make us who we are. There are few murders that are worse than that.
Rabbeinu Bechaye adds another Talmudic dictum that gossip kills three people. It kills the gossiper, it kills the listener and it kills the person being gossiped about.
So the next time you want to share a juicy or even innocuous tidbit about someone you know, think again. You may be committing murder.
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Reblogged this on Noshing Across the Nation and commented:
I decide to re-blog this after listening to a Pardes podcast on this Parshah today. It is astounding to me how timely, frightening and close to home this feels now. I can bet not too many of us would read this and think ‘wow, this concerns me a lot” last year or a year before. Today, as usually happens in hard times, we see the best and the worst in people. I can only wish we would heed the advice of our Sages. Here’s an abstract from RAMABAM (courtesy of R. Michael Hattin from Pardes):
Rambam (12th century, Egypt) – Laws of Tum’at Tzara’at, 16:10:
“Tzara’at is a general term that includes many distinct conditions that differ one from the other. A whitening of human skin is called ‘tzara’at,’ a loss of some scalp or beard hair may be ‘tzara’at,’ and a discoloration of garments or the house is ‘tzara’at.’ This condition that afflicts garments or houses to which the Torah refers by this term is not a natural occurrence but rather a miraculous sign that would transpire in ancient Israel in order TO DISSUADE THEM FROM ENGAGING IN EVIL TALK (lashon hara). Thus, if one engaged in disparaging speech, then the walls of his house would become discolored. If he repented, then the walls would recover, but if he persisted, then…the garments upon him would be afflicted… if he persisted, then his very skin would be stricken and he would be publicly SEPARATED AND ISOLATED so that he would be unable to engage in the chatter of the wicked,
namely foolish words and evil speech. Concerning this very thing, the Torah warned when it said: ‘Observe diligently the laws of tzara’at…remember what God your Lord did to Miriam on the way as you left the land of Egypt…’ (Bemidbar 24:8-9).