This week’s “twin” Torah portions discusses, in vivid detail, the laws concerning the unusual disease called tzaraas. This disease can manifest itself on one’s body with skin lesions or discoloration of one’s garment or even of one’s house. The Torah discusses at length how this person, garment or house is to be treated and purified.
According to the Talmudic Sages these diseases occurred as a result of the sin of lashon ha’ra, speaking ill of others.
In this portion, the Torah employs the expression “This is the law (Torah)” in relation to tzaraas five times. This has prompted the Midrash to state: “Whoever speaks lashon ha’ra is tantamount to violating the five books of the Torah.”
Commentators point out that there are allusions to lashon ha’ra in each of the Five Books of Moses, which explains why a violation of this law is considered to be the equivalent of violating each of these five books.
In Genesis, the book of creation, we read of Adam pointing the accusing finger of guilt at his wife, saying that she had given him to eat of the forbidden fruit. One may add also the story of Joseph who would offer negative reports of his brothers to his father Jacob.
In Exodus, the book in which we become a people, we read of how Dasan and Aviram—the two Jews—reported Moses’ killing of the Egyptian taskmaster to Pharaoh.
In Leviticus, the book describing the Temple duties and ritual holiness, we have, as stated, almost two entire sections devoted to the subject of tzaraas which was a punishment for lashon ha’ra. In addition, the Torah commands us in this book not to be talebearers, a form of lashon ha’ra.
In Numbers, which describes the journey of the Jewish people towards the promised land, we have the story of Miriam, Moses’ sister, who mildly slandered her brother Moses. We also have the story of the spies who slandered the Land of Israel when they returned from their mission of scouting the land.
And in the book of Deuteronomy, the final stage before entering the Land, we read of the command to be careful in observing the laws of tzaraas, which, as noted, was a result of lashon ha’ra.
In brief, seeing the negative in others taints our:
Genesis - humanity
Exodus - status as a nation
Leviticus - holiness
Numbers - journey through exile
Deuteronomy - final transition into Redemption.
In truth, all five elements are inherent in Moshiach and Redemption.
In that age, G-d’s plan will become a reality:
Entire world will become a Garden of Eden, a reality that eluded Adam.
Moshiach is obviously all about Redemption of a united people.
Moshiach is about building the third Beis HaMikdash and thereby revealing the hidden dimensions of holiness of the world at large and of the Jewish people in particular.
Belief in and hope for Moshiach makes our sojourn through the desert of nations a shorter and more manageable trip.
Moshiach, who, as our Sages tell us, embodies Moses’ soul, is the ultimate communicator of Torah’s essence, making even its most esoteric teachings accessible and understandable.
All of these qualities that parallel the Five Books of Moses can be undermined and tainted when our speech and thoughts focus on the negativity of others. Conversely, positive speech has the capacity to: reveal the Garden of Eden and make the entire world a Garden of Eden; liberate and sanctify the Jewish people; enable them to travel smoothly and quickly through the last moments of exile and become receptive to Moshiach’s teachings.