King Solomon teaches in Proverbs (18:21): “Mavet v’hayyim beyad lashon” – “Death and life are in the hand of the tongue.”
Last week’s Parshah described the signs of the Metzora—a person afflicted by a spiritual malady for talking slander, which places them in a state of ritual impurity. This week’s Torah reading details how the recovered Metzora is purified.
Often, in an attempt to be included and to connect with others, we resort to gossip and slanderous talk to create a bond and sense of kinship. We think that by putting others down, we can boost our own image and value. Attempting to create a sense of community and bonding through gossip and negative talk is prevalent because it is easy. We disregard the consequences due to our need for acceptance and belonging.
Instead of resorting to gossip and slander as a way to ingratiate ourselves into our social circle, let us hold ourselves and our communities to a higher standard and connect in an uplifting and emotionally healthy manner.– Rabbi Shmulik Yeshayahu
The Torah instructs such an individual to be removed from the community while getting well. Their malady is publicized to encourage the community to come together to pray for their healing and return.
Positive speech, community prayer and Torah study, as well as shared acts of kindness are ways to build a healthy community. Demanding more introspection, self-improvement, and awareness of others, these positive ways to build community require more effort. When we come together to connect and bond through positive speech and action, we will build a healthy, sacred space for all.
Instead of resorting to gossip and slander as a way to ingratiate ourselves into our social circle, let us hold ourselves and our communities to a higher standard and connect in an uplifting and emotionally healthy manner.