Prepared by Rabbi Stephen Texon
Our double portion this Shabbat, "Tazria-Metzorah" continues the themes in Leviticus of ritual purity, sacrifice, and morality. We double up this year because it is not a leap year on the Jewish calendar and we must contract certain portions in order to finish in time for Rosh Hashana.
The laws of physical and spiritual purity then lead into detailed descriptions of skin diseases/eruptions which were common in the desert and in Biblical times. The Rabbis attributed these skin eruptions as being a punishment for engaging in gossip (Loshon Horo). We pray everyday "O Lord, guard my tongue front evil, and my lips from speaking guile"!
The Rabbis go a step further in condemning gossip as (almost) akin to murder! Why?.. because slander can literally destroy a person and his or her reputation, known as character assassination, and the emotional and physical impact on the individual. We must guard against this with all our self control in leading a moral life. Our Rabbis ask us to let gossip/hearsay pass through 3 filters: is it true? is it kind? is it necessary?
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