Cannibalism - Lashon Hara
A Deeper Understanding Of The Connection Between לה''ר And
Its Punishment צָּרַַעַ ת
צָּרַַעַת versus Leprosy
t is essential to understand that the disease that we know as leprosy is not רמב''ם . ַ ָּצרַעצ ַר ַע ת in טומאה הלכו ת (9:10) clearly writes
about the idea that צָּרצ ַר ַעַע ת not an ailment based on טבע.Once one analysis the fact that צָּרַַעַ ת can appear on the body, clothes, house, etc., it is evident that it cannot be a natural disease. (When was the last time you heard of a home catching a strep throat.) The רמב'' ם writes that it was a sign created to stop people speaking from speaking לה''ר.
ַצָּרַַעַת As a Random Punishment?
'ה does not deliver punishments or consequences at random. The concept of מדה כנגד מדה applies regardless of whether what happens is an עונש – punishment or a way of teaching one a lesson. In either case, there would be no function (as nothing meaningful would be achieved) to something happening to a person as a result of an עבירה if it wasn’t linked to what the person did that was wrong.
The question to ask know is what the link between לשון הרע and צרע ת is.
f you look at the words of מוִֹצִיא ֵׁשֵׁם ַרַע, the letters of ַצָּרַַעַ ת can be found in them.
There are many places in חז''ל that draw parallels between the sin of לה''ר and its punishment of צרע ת.
The מְֹּצֹרָּע would bring birds as קרבנו ת; birds are constantly chirping in the background מדה כנגד מדה to the מְֹּצֹרָּע who talked too much about others.
The מְֹּצֹרָּע becomes a pariah – separated from the rest of humanity because he drove divides between people by creating מחלקו ת with his לה''ר.
Interestingly, the effort was made to find links between the sin and the actual physical affliction of 'leprosy.'
− It is interesting מצורע נחשבה כמ ת – a leper is considered and has the exact status of a dead person. (This is what משה discussed in reference to מרי ם’s צרע ת. This actually has halachic ramifications. רש''י in בְּהֲַעֲלֹתְּךָ (12:12)quotes חז''ל on the ramifications. In the same way, as one becomes טמע from walking into a room where a מ ת is, one becomes טמע from walking into a room where a
The חפץ חיי ם used to explain this with it החיים והמות בידהלשון – life and death is in the hands the tongue. This person brought death in a certain by speaking badly of others; he, therefore, has the status of a dead person. You don’t find cemeteries in the central city; you won’t have them next to a pizza store. Following the same theme, the person is banished away from the hub of life.
Now to go a little deeper.
f we go back to basics, we know that everything that happens here happens with a purpose. When a person has, for example, heart trouble, he should think about whether he has used his heart negatively – was empathetic to other – נשע בעל חברך, does he live a life running after his תאו ת, etc.? In other words, the physical is an expression of the spiritual.
This idea of the physical being an expression of the physical can be seen in recent times by the Chazon Ish’s ability to advise and guide medical experts in selecting the best methods of care for their patients. How was he able to do this? By tapping into the spiritual core of it.
A talmid chacham who sat by a schmooze of R’Chatzkel Levenstein told over that R’ Chatzkel once commented on the concept of the vast amount of money being offered to the one who would find a cure for cancer. He said, they can come to him for the secret –שינו הטבע – they think they can manipulate Hashem’s perfect world.
This talmid chacham, a survivor of cancer, said that the talmidim usually challenged R' Chatzkel, but here no one did because no one understood what he meant. He said that as time went on, he did – cancer itself is a natural state of things - a cell is made to multiply correctly; tumors are caused by abnormal multiplication. The clincher is that things that are discussed to cause cancer are chemicals and other unnatural foods.
− Leprosy is a highly contagious disease. (To demonstrate the point, there are teshuvas written by R' Moshe Feinstein on the question of whether tefillin could be burnt along with the rest of a leper's belongings.)
There is a story that R' Aryeh Levine tells over about himself regarding leprosy, before that, it is vital to understand who he was. Leprosy was a big problem when he lived in Eretz Yisroel; lepers were typically left to fend for themselves as the risks involved in seeing them were too significant. It is put on record that he would visit people afflicted with leprosy, and when people concerned for his health would question his choices, he would reply שומר מצוה לא דבר רע and indeed, he never contracted the disease. This goes back to the point about spiritual states expressing themselves as physical events – in this case, R’ Aryeh was pure and therefore remained unaffected.
The story he told over leaves a powerful message about being דן לכף זכו ת. He and an old classmate were by the funeral of another classmate who was a leper. As is per the minhag in Eretz Yisroel, they were accompanying the מ ת from the funeral home to the בית הקברו ת. As they passed through Guela, he noticed this other person purchase a big plant home decoration en-route. Suffice to say, he was bothered by this and finally inquired about this seemingly self-centered / out-of-place act. The person explained that he wanted to save the dead person's tefillin from being burned and was advised this was the way to sneak it out of hospital as it was against regulation.
R' Aryeh reflected that had he not asked, he would always have, to some extent, remember this person in a negative light when really he was engaged in a completely selfless activity.
− Understanding the physical illness of leprosy, it makes senses that the מצרע had to remain alone. It can be seriously suggested that he was actually spiritually contagious, without people necessarily being aware of it. Because he caused ruin with his mouth – without actually having contact with a specific person, he now has an application that, when it manifests itself as a 'natural' illness, is highly contagious (meaning without the need for touch.) Spiritually, the person is passing germs around.
צרע ת, was actually awarded to the generations that were spiritually elevated in order to be punish and help those that were not spiritually elevated. In other words, we are so sick, we can’t even tell that we are sick! We are so far removed from the truth; we think it is normal to be like this!
− When someone speaks loshon hora, it’s like an infection. The subject, in your mind, becomes what was said. It contaminated the person and makes them spiritually infectious. The 'natural' leprosy we see today may be only physical because it is the spiritual reality.
− Imagine you walked into a house and saw someone sitting at a table, eating a live mouse, and squealing in pain. Your gut instinct is that this guy has to be subhuman to do such a thing, and the two of you can't be together for a minute longer. Imagine having a live chicken brought to your table and have it prepared there for you from scratch – you would want to lock the instigators up… Imagine coming into someone’s house and on the table is a human and the guy takes a bite out of him. That guy is a cannibal. This is what לשון הרע is. This is what R’ Yerucham in א') דעת חכמה מוסר) explains.
,רַ ִבִי חֲִנִינָּא ְּסְַּגַן הַכֹהֲִנִים אוֵֹׁמֵׁר, הֱֵׁוֵׁי ִמִתְּפֵַׁלֵׁל ִבִשְּלוֹמָּהּ ֶׁשֶׁל ַמַלְּכוּתשִֶׁאִלְּמֵָּׁלֵׁא מוֹרָּאָּהּ, ִאִיש ֶׁאֶׁת רֵֵׁׁעֵׁהוּ חִַיִים ְּבְּ לָּעוֹ.– Rabbi Chanina said to pray for the government's welfare, for were it not for the fear it inspires, every man would swallow his neighbor alive. This is the point being made.
' Hutner used to tell over a fascinating historical fact. When the חפץ חיי ם originally named his Sefer so, he went to R' Yisroel Salanter to get haskama as he was a young man.) He said that he needed to study it. R' Yisroel said that he took issue with one of the halachos he writes – that one must go back to one about whom he spoke לה''ר and ask mechilla. R' Yisroel held, you can't go to someone and say that. The חפץ חיי ם was not happy to remove רבנו יונה’s words explicitly written in his שערי תשובהand suggested resolving it by R’ Yisroel detailing it in haskoma. The end of the story is that R' Yisroel did not give his letter of approval for fear that people would not end up reading the final bit, which would cause them to do extremely painful things to others by informing them that לה''ר had been spoken about them. (As heard from Reb Dovid Feinstein.)
We know from the story of יהודה and תמר that בושה is worse than physical pain – she went into a fire to avoid him suffering the embarrassment.Through בושה, the מצרע killed someone and therefore takes on that status.
The media are fine to bemoan people leaving their dogs out in the cold, but they’re okay to kill people with their words.
what R’ Yisroel’s point was – it can’t be halocho to cause someone to experience embarrassment – worse than death.
Miriam got ויאכל חצי בצרו - ַצָּרַַעַ ת is the description used – the לה''ר ate up someone else. Therefore the affliction eats up the speakerץ
It is cannibalism. It is not about eating arms and legs with ketchup; it is eating dignity with schnapps and kugel at a kiddush.
− But the actual צרע ת decays the body – rots it because that is where the evil speech came from in the first place and because as a result, the person became decayed and ‘killed’ the other.
The person who walks around wielding a gun or sword needs to be locked up – he is dangerous, such as the person who speaks לה''ר, it is the idea of animal cruelty – you lock him up, he’s an outcast – he’s a מזיק, a danger.
נחש it is the ultimate מזיק. There is discussion in the משנה what to do with wild animals; it specifies there that a snake is killed because there is nothing you can do with it. It is the ultimate predator, as is the מצרע.
Most animal species kill in just one manner; this is not so with the נחש, depending on the type of snake, they can kill in different styles: biting, choking, swallowing prey whole etc. .This is true about the way the בעל לשון הרע speaks about others – he employs many methods to express his dismissive thoughts about others. The נחש and the בעל לשון הרע have a lot in common, in fact, the analogy in the פסוק is to the snake’s poison specifically – it is what comes out of the mouth.