Parashas Metzora

In Devarim Rabbah 6:10, the Midrash teaches that a person who speaks loshon hara cannot argue that he told the story to someone who would not spread it, and thus meant no harm. The Midrash says that when loshon hara is spoken, an angel writes down the whole story and passes it on to heaven.
The Maggid, in his commentary on this week’s parashah, explains this Midrash as follows. The Gemara states that the ministering angels do not give forth song in Heaven above until the People of Israel give forth song on the Earth below (Chullin 91b). The Maggid holds that this principle applies not only to song, but to other forms of expression. Thus, in Kol Yaakov, in his commentary on Eichah 2:19, the Maggid says that the angels do not cry over the Churban Beis HaMikdash and the exile until we cry first. Here he says that the same idea applies to loshon hara.
When a person does bad deeds, he generates prosecuting angels (Avos 4:13), but these angels initially do not have the power to speak. The situation changes, however, when someone relates these bad deeds to another person. After the story is written down by the recording angel and passed up to heaven, the accusing angels can then come forward with their evidence. Thus, even if the story is not spread to other people, the one spoken about suffers great harm. Moreover, the one who spoke the loshon hara can also be prosecuted.
Thus, speaking loshon hara is dangerous. The hazard is compounded by the fact that loshon hara tends to become a habit. As the Midrash indicates (Devarim Rabbah 6:9), one begins by speaking loshon hara about people one hates, but over time one ends up speaking loshon hara about friends as well. If a person would only realize how much damage he can do to himself by speaking loshon hara, he would never start.
The laws of the metzora are meant to provide a lesson in the power of speech. Thus, a person with a lesion that looks like tzoraas does not become tamei (ritually impure) until a Kohen declares him so. And, similarly, when the lesion heals, the person does not become tahor (ritually pure) until the Kohen declares him so. It is not enough for the Kohen to call in a scholar to examine the lesion and render a verdict. The Kohen must proclaim the verdict. Moreover, as the Sifra states, it doen not matter if the Kohen is an ignoramus: When the scholar examines the lesion and informs the Kohen of his finding, it is the Kohen’s proclamation that gives the verdict effect. Such is the power that a word can have.   
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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