Dvar Torah- Parshat Metzorah
In this week's Parsha, Parshat Metzorah, the Torah describes the process of diagnosing a Metzorah, someone afflicted with tzara'at. Tzara'at, or leprosy, is a condition that can affect the house, clothing, and body of a person who speaks badly of their fellow man. As the passuk explains, once a Kohen examines a person and comes to the conclusion that they have tzara'at, the person is told just one word -"טמא," or impure. At that point, the person is responsible to leave the Jewish camp and seclude themselves from the nation for Israel.
Many of the sages question the seeming simplicity of this declaration by the Kohen. Why is only one word uttered?
One possible answer can be derived from the reason a person receives tzara'at in the first place- the derogatory way in which they speak about others. Now, that doesn't necessarily mean that they spread an enormous rumor or long speech defaming the other person. Rather, just one simple word, as insignificant as it may seem, is enough to destroy a person's confidence, career, or even life. Just one measly comment is enough to alienate them from everyone else, to single them out as different. So too, a person afflicted with tzara'at receives a taste of their own medicine, and they are separated from everyone else with just one word.
The lesson we can learn from this passuk is simple, yet so important for our everyday lives. A person holds much power at the tip of their tongue, and that power can be used both to lift others up, as well as to break them down. We should all be mindful of the words that leave our mouths and make sure that we are doing the former.