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Tazria(Leviticus 12-13)

Communal Connection

Parshat Tazria describes a skin disease called "Tzara'at." The Talmud says this is a spiritual malady that comes when someone speaks Loshon Hara - speaks negatively about others.

In addition to the skin disease, the person afflicted with Tzara'at has to spend one week in isolation - living on the outskirts of the community, and warning others to keep their distance from him.

The commentators explain that this punishment is "measure for measure." The speaker, having "put down" another person in the eyes of others, effectively distanced and separated that person from the community. So now the speaker, by spending a week in isolation, will experience for himself what it's like to be separated from others.

In the book of Genesis, the Torah says "it is not good for man to be alone." Being alone is painful for a human soul that craves connection. So remember - if you want be with other people, you'll have to bear their idiosyncrasies, and always try to see their positive side.

We hear so much today about "Jewish unity." The Talmud says it was Loshon Hara, negative speech, that caused the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago. The Temple was a key unifying force for the Jewish people. But when dissention and strife took hold, the foundation of the Temple was "conceptually" destroyed. From there, it was only a formality for the Roman army to burn the Temple's wood and stones.

The world today is at a crucial time in history. Now more than ever, let's try to keep our speech on the up-side.

April 22, 2006

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Visitor Comments: 4

(4) Anonymous, April 6, 2016 12:24 PM

Great article! Thanks for posting!

(3) Anonymous, March 23, 2014 1:08 PM


This is great! Thank you so much for posting it!

(2) Harry I Kuperschmidt, March 28, 2011 5:43 PM

Temple Destruction

Dear Rabbi: I wish I could buy your statement that the Roman destruction of the temple was just a formality because "disention and strife took hold" in the temple, and perhaps you meant also, among the people. Can you imagine a time when there will be no disention and strife among us Jews who love to argue? As far as i can tell, it's almost built into us. Let me give you a perfect example: This E-mail. However, I buy everything else.

(1) Anonymous, April 23, 2006 12:00 AM

Support Gesher

One outstanding institution that is addressing this problem is the Gesher Foundation. THey are at work in Israel, trying to create understanding abd appreciation for all sides. We certainly need them here in the U.S.A. as well.

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