When you think about the leprosy spoken of in Leviticus 13, do you immediately think of gossipers, complainers and crude jokers? Well, until I studied this week’s parasha neither did I. However, according to the ancient teachers, evil speech resulted in tzara’at. Let me back up a moment because this is not the condition we usually think of when we picture leprosy. Tzara’at was a condition that affected skin, clothing and a person’s dwelling place. The leprosy we think of is a nerve disease that affects the body, but nothing else. When you consider the times in which this command was initiated, the people didn’t have volumes of teaching telling them what made them ritually clean so they could draw near to YHVH, so they learned through a physical manifestation when they said or did things that made them ritually unclean. During the outbreak, they were set apart outside the camp for 7 days. When I consider the reason for the isolation, I don’t think they got lonely.
This lesson really convicted me about my speech. I imagined what it would be like if there was a physical manifestation every time I complained, gossiped, whined or said things in anger…I’d frequently be in “timeout.” I may not break out every time I say something ungodly, but the impact it has on me and others is very obvious. James 3:8-10, 13 says –
“But no man is able to tame the tongue…With it we bless our Elohim and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of Elohim. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brothers, this should not be so… Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by his good behavior his works in meekness of wisdom.” (Scriptures 1998)
This lesson reminds me I need to repent as soon as the Holy Spirit convicts me and ask for forgiveness just as quickly.