The Netzari Faith

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lashon mashiach | What is LaShon Harah (evil speech)?

One of the most difficult sections of the Torah to understand is the discussion of "Tzarat," a skin disease commonly mistranslated as "leprosy." In truth, Tzarat is a physical manifestation of a spiritual deficiency. The Talmud (Arachin 16) says that Tzarat comes specifically as a consequence of "lashon hara" – negative speech about another person.

A Jewish tale illustrates this point: A man went about the community telling malicious lies about his Rabbi. Later, he realized the wrong he had done, and began to feel remorse. He went to the Rabbi and begged his forgiveness, saying he would do anything he could to make amends. The Rabbi told the man, "Take a feather pillow, cut it open, and scatter the feathers to the winds." The man thought this was a strange request, but it was a simple enough task, and he did it gladly. When he returned to tell the Rabbi that he had done it, the Rabbi said, "Now, go and gather the feathers. Because you can no more make amends for the damage your words have done than you can recollect the feathers."

Evil speaking of another has been compared to an arrow that once released cannot be stopped or recalled. Likewise, the words spoken once released cannot be stopped from harming their intended target . . . the character and soul of another. The person who listens to gossip is sometimes viewed even worse than the person who tells the story, because no harm could be done by gossip if no one listened to it. It has been said that lashon hara (an evil tongue and speech) kills three people: the person who speaks it, the person who hears it, and the person about whom it is told.

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