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Posted on April 20, 2023 (5783) By Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein | Series: | Level:

This should be the Torah of the metzora on the day of his purification. He shall be brought to the Kohen.[2]

Why is it that lashon hora, according to Chazal, is the equivalent of avodah zarah?[3] We understand the link to the metzora, a word that can be expanded to motzai ra, or the one who brings out evil.[4] Making public the indiscretions or faults of another is the very definition of lashon hora. Moreover, it is axiomatic that Hashem loves every Jew, even the rasha. Kivayachol, He receives oneg, pleasure, from each Jew. When the worth of a Jew is challenged or blunted by lashon hora, it introduces an element of sadness, as it were, into His hanhagah. The oneg changes to nega, which is a rearrangement of the same letters. Thus, the discolorations of skin on the speaker of lashon hora. But what connection does lashon hora have with idolatry?

There are many ways of understanding the quintessential nature of speech. One way is to recognize that it undergirds Hashem’s midah of malchus. A king who is mute about his wishes and directives is not much of a king. He becomes a genuine ruler by shifting his thoughts into letters and words, allowing for communication.

Similarly, HKBH established His malchus, His kingship with speech.[5] While His other aspects are not critically dependent on the letters and words of speech, His malchus completely necessitates communication with His subjects. The twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet form the matrix in which Hashem’s malchus is exercised.

Hashem loves His children. Just as a father would not say lashon hora against his own child, Hashem, as it were, refrains from lashon hora against Bnei Yisrael. Using speech to malign one of His children is forbidden. It is a usurpation of the essential purpose of speech, which is malchus Hashem. Denying the purpose of speech is thus a rejection of His kingship, and therefore a form of avodah zarah.

How does one arrive at this lofty comprehension of the purpose of speech? By best utilizing speech for its intended purpose of submitting to His malchus. In other words, by speaking divrei Torah, he binds his speech to the Torah’s holy letters, using the malchus-matrix as it was designed to be used.

Our pasuk can be read as an allusion to all of this. “This should be the Torah of the metzora on the day of his purification. “This/ zos (referencing the midah of malchus[6]) is the correct way to study Torah by the repenting metzora: elevating his speech to bind it to the holy letters. Doing so will bring him to the Heavenly Kohen – HKBH Himself.

  1. Based on Meor Einayim by Rav Menachem Nochum of Chernobyl
  2. Vayikra 14:2
  3. Arachin 15b
  4. Ibid.
  5. Sefer Yetzirah 2:3
  6. Zohar1 94a