וידבר יהוה אל־משׁה לאמר׃
... זאת תהיה תורת המצרע ביום טהרתו והובא אל־הכהן׃
Adonai said to Moshe, "This is to be the law concerning the person afflicted with tzara`at on the day of his purification. He is to be brought to the cohen, ...
(Lev 14:1-2 CJB)
In the Bible, the “tongue” is compared to a knife, a fire, and a poison. Here are James’ words on the “tongue,”
So too the tongue is a tiny part of the body, yet it boasts great things. See how a little fire sets a whole forest ablaze! Yes, the tongue is a fire, a world of wickedness. The tongue is so placed in our body that it defiles every part of it, setting ablaze the whole of our life; and it is set on fire by Gei-Hinnom itself. For people have tamed and continue to tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures; but the tongue no one can tame -- it is an unstable and evil thing, full of death-dealing poison! With it we bless Adonai, the Father; and with it we curse people, who were made in the image of God. Out of the same mouth come blessing and cursing! Brothers, it isn't right for things to be this way. (Jas 3:5-10 CJB)
Control over the “tongue’ is equal to perfection,
For we all stumble in many ways; if someone does not stumble in what he says, he is a mature man who can bridle his whole body.
(Jas 3:2 CJB)
LIKE SEEING THE DOCTOR.
Zissel Ziv of Kelm Rabbi Simcha wrote that studying the portion of metzora is analogous to visiting a doctor prior to an operation. If the patient sees that the doctor requires a large amount of surgical instruments for the operation, It will frighten him. ... The Torah continues for an entire section with a description of the instruments and operations that are necessary to cure the metzora spiritually. From here we can learn the gravity of slander and gossip (Chochmah Umussar).
TANTAMOUNT TO ATHEISM.
Sforno explains why the metzora was required to bring a guilt offering. When someone gossips and slanders, they usually do it secretly. The Yeraim also expresses this concept in his explanation of the Talmudic statement that slander and gossip is tantamount to atheism (Ershin 15b). Although the slanderer/gossiper usually makes sure that the subject is not listening, he forgets that God hears every word.
This implies a type of atheism because it comes down to a lack of awareness of God's omnipresence. Just as a person must bring a guilt offering for the sin of misusing sacred property (me'elah), so to the metzora must bring a guilt offering for his trespass against God.
ARROGANCE AND PRIDE.
The commentator Chofetz Chayim has much to say about the sins of the tongue. He proclaims that the root of lashon hara is arrogance and pride; that those who speak negatively about others view themselves as above and better than others. This rabbi would dat say that this is totally opposite to the way we are supposed to be as believers. Paul also would agree with Chofetz Chayim. He himself says,
Do nothing out of rivalry or vanity; but, in humility, regard each other as better than yourselves --(Php 2:3 CJB)
IN THE NEWS...
Slander and gossip often revolves around two main subjects: politics and religion. At this time of early primaries, we must remember that we are first and primarily citizens of the Kingdom of God, and that we need to conduct ourselves as such; live by the laws of our kingdom which forbid hatred and slander against a brother. HaShem gives us strong commands about that in,
" 'Do not go around spreading slander among your people, but also don't stand idly by when your neighbor's life is at stake; I am Adonai. " 'Do not hate your brother in your heart, but rebuke your neighbor frankly, so that you won't carry sin because of him. Don't take vengeance on or bear a grudge against any of your people; rather, love your neighbor as yourself; I am Adonai. (Lev 19:16-18 CJB)
We must remember that it is that type of zealotus political activity which has caused the destruction of the second Temple, and of Jerusalem. May it not destroy our Jerusalem! We must also remember that all humans are made in the image of God and that if "He makes his sun shine on good and bad people alike, and he sends rain to the righteous and the unrighteous alike. " (Mat 5:45 CJB) who are we to do otherwise?
Social media today has become the platform for vindictive and often ignorant accusative talk. We are all aware of how foreign powers have used our taste for polemical talk in order to poison the political conversation in our social media platforms. It is true that our own elections should be no-one else’s business but ours but aren’t we are the ones to blame for this situation? These people have only used our own weaknesses against us. They gave us the material, and our own appetite for slander, polemic, and conspiracy theories have created the poison that negatively influenced our social media conversation.
Here is the article:
It is much like James said,
Rather, each person is being tempted whenever he is being dragged off and enticed by the bait of his own desire. (Jas 1:14 CJB)
There is a Jewish teaching that says that the sound waves of our words may diminish, but that they actually never die. I do not know if that is true, but one thing I do know is that:
"The way you judge others is how you will be judged -- The measure with which you measure out will be used to measure to you." Mat 7:2
"By your own words you will be acquitted, By your own words you will be condemned." (Mat 12:37)
Here is a little article I wrote on my Fire Chaplain blog on the subject:
A LESSON FROM TOOTHPASTE
R' Gavriel Lumbroso