Dvar Torah for Parshat Tazria-Metzora


Based on Likutey Moharan I, Lesson #54

Spiritual leprosy results from slandering others (Erkhin 16b).
The prohibition of slander extends to the written word (Chafetz Chaim, Lashon Hara 1:8).

"Remember the future," teaches Rebbe Nachman. There's another world waiting beyond this one. Protect your memory. Guard it.

We spend a lot of time trying to fill our belly and our wallet - neither of which remains full for long. We're also on the lookout for a chance to show off, to shine more brightly than the next person, and fifteen minutes of fame rarely satisfies. What makes us so hungry? Forgetfulness. We think it's now or never for pleasure. (For a mitzvah, one has to think now or never, Hillel said [Avot 1:14].) We forget that there's a world coming, a plane of existence yet to be experienced, wherein the word "bliss" is an understatement for what to expect.

We forget because we are mean-spirited in the way we look at others. Instead of focusing on the virtues of our co-Jews, we view them with jealousy or hatred. We look at them as if we were students at Bilaam's College of Anti-Semitism, instead of our patriarch Avraham's Academy of Love and Kindness (see ibid. 5:19).

In order to protect our sight, we must guard our tongues, and neither slander nor libel a fellow Jew. Speaking or writing in such a way about a Jew brings out one's inner-animal. Our judgement, as accurate as it may be in what we see, is blind to what the other person was thinking, how he saw the situation and what motivated him to act as he did. We merely imagine that our interpretation is correct.

Animals, too, imagine. By setting aside our uniquely human daat (knowledge) and exercising our animal-like imagination, we start to live like an animal, i.e., just for the pleasures of this world, the only world an animal has. By limiting your view to this world you miss God's hints. God loves us, and is always trying to let us know that He cares and wants our love in return. So He sends us hints. The more human and the less animal we are, the better we can interpret those hints.

In Judaism, if you aren't actively trying to grow and improve, you are automatically backsliding. If you don't actively weed out your internal terrorist infrastructure, if you constantly offer to make peace with the avarice of the body, it will demand more and more till it drives your soul into the sea. If you pull out of your Jenin, your Jerusalem-bound bus from Haifa is going to suffer savage destruction.

A cursory glance at the headlines, or a few minutes tuned in to the airwaves, makes it frighteningly clear that there are more than enough people slandering and libeling us. Let us not become our own worst enemies.

agutn Shabbos!
Shabbat Shalom!