|The Voice of Torah: Tzaria - Metzorah|
|Written by Rabbi Chaim Goldberger|
This week’s parsha is about Tzara’at, the spiritual skin disease that results from speaking lashon hara. Yet the parsha is introduced with a mention of brit milah. What is the connection between the two?
In Lashon Hakodesh, we have two different words for “create” – BARA and YATZAR. The difference between them is that while BARA refers to creating something out of nothing, YATZAR refers to the fashioning of something defined and specific out of something amorphous and general.
The word “Tzara’at” comes from the word YATZAR.
Many things might be true of a given individual at any given moment. But no one detail stands out until it gets highlighted. When you draw attention to a particular aspect of the person, and you highlight it, making it stand out so that everyone is aware of it, you have essentially become its “yotzer”, fashioning its relevance out of something previously amorphous and general.
When you use lashon hara, giving specific identity and relevance to some piece of negative information about a friend, you highlight it. Doing so, you unleash a force powerful enough to make you a virtual creator. But since you have created a negative force, it turns against you and creates in you a disease which proceeds to do to you exactly what you did to your victim – draw everyone’s attention to your blemish. This is Tzara’at.
But there is a flip side to this devastating power.
On the day of a brit milah, not just the circumcision is taking place. There is also the naming of the baby. When you give someone a name, you are creating his identity. Name someone, and you influence the kind of individual the person will grow up to be. Naming too makes you a “yotzer”, unleashing a creative force just as powerful as the negative one unleashed by lashon hara but one that is wholly positive and life-affirming.
Our Torah is teaching us to be aware of our creative instincts and to use them wisely.