Parashat Metzora: “Speak Good and See Good” - Vital Transformation

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Parashat Metzora: “Speak Good and See Good”

Weekly Pearl of Wisdom for Your Shabbat Table

Parashat Metzora: “Speak Good and See Good”

This week we near the holiday of Passover and we enter the Parashah of Metzora; the portion exploring מצורע, a leper. A leper is someone afflicted by a spiritual disease that has a physical manifestation, putting them in a state of ritual impurity.

Why leprosy?

We learn that one of the causes of the spiritual disease of leprosy is speaking לשון הרע, speaking evil about others. Speaking ill of others is so evil that it is one of the few areas that God says He cannot pardon! Why is it so bad? When people speak badly of others, they are weakening themselves, others hearing the evil, and the person they are speaking badly about. There is no simple cleansing for this. We learn that the power of humans is their speech; we are called מדבר, the one who speaks. Our unique abilities lie in our power of speech. We learn how important it is for us to be careful with our speech.

If you are around someone who is speaking badly about others, be certain that they will speak badly about you next! It is infectious. It is a disease. But someone who is careful with speech is powerful. When you are next in a social gathering, watch for the quiet people; they are the ones who can control themselves and they are very strong.

Why is speaking bad so bad?

Kabbalah teaches us that the very first instance of evil speech was the snake speaking negatively to Eve about God in the Garden of Eden. When we speak evil of others, we are connecting to the evil tongue of the original snake. The snake connects with you, makes you impure, and will use you to do more bad! Speaking badly is not about manners. It is so negative because we are connected to the original snake and create energy that will hurt us. If you try to stop speaking badly to improve your manners, it will not last. Stop because you recognize it is hurting you, it is the snake using you!

Can I go back?

When we think ill of others, it is private; simply in our mind. But once we speak bad, it is now public domain. Once it is out, the sickness will spread and harm those who hear it and come close to it.

We learn a story of a wise Rabbi, feathers, and the wind to help illustrate the severity of לשון הרע, of speaking evil.

There once was a town Rabbi who was grocery shopping. The Rabbi picked his apples, put them in a bag, and walked out of the store with the intention of paying later as he and the shop owner had earlier agreed upon. Town folks saw him with his unpaid apples, not knowing he was to pay later, and spread false word of theft to others. The speech, evil in the ill intentions, and its unconfronted truth followed him around until he was kicked out to a town far away. Many years later, after the truth was found out, a town’s man found the Rabbi and begged him for forgiveness for his ill speech. The Rabbi answered him by taking a pillow and cutting it open with a sharp knife in front of the open window. The pillow’s feathers burst out and blew away in the wind. The Rabbi turns to the man and says, “Can you go get them back for me?”. After a very failed attempt, the man, panting, returns to the Rabbi who teaches, “Just as you cannot get the feathers back, so too you cannot take your harmful words back”. The townsman, as well as ourselves, learn how evil the disease of evil speech is.

What is the leprosy attacking?

The Zohar teaches us that the leprosy on the home is due to negativity that is in the house. To fight and purify the house of the negative spirit (the unseen), God sends leprosy (the seen). We learn that the entire diseased house, bricks and all, must be destroyed in order to later be rebuilt. The house cannot stay the same, it must be shaken up. God sends pain to wake the homeowner up and force him to do something about the problem. Here we learn that sometimes we have issues that we cannot see, so God sends hard things, painful tests that we can see, in order to get rid of those issues. There is a war between the disease we don’t see and the one we can see. We learn now that visible issues, such as someone publicly humiliating you, is saving you from deeper unseen problems, like for example, jealousy. You can determine for yourself what your unseen negativities are. The toughest times in our lives come to cleanse you! In those moments of pain, look for two things:

  1. What negative things I do too much
  2. What positive things can I be doing more

We now see that physical manifestations of suffering in our lives can be tools to fight our hidden internal diseases.

What is the solution?

The solution comes in speaking good about others. The question you must ask yourself is, “Can I speak good about one person a day?” Challenge yourself: “Can I find one good thing about my biggest enemy?” Start from there and challenge yourself to better speech.

Passover and Desire

Kabbalah teaches that desire brings light that we need to be able to contain. We must make sure to build up our vessel, to build up our capacity to hold the fulfillment of the desire. And with fulfillment, desire is a pipe; on one end it goes through you to receive and the other to give. Why is this? We learn that the original desire is the Light before creation. When creation began, the Light created a vessel to give to. Then the vessel wanted to become like the Light and give as well! To do this, a receiver is needed. That is where creation and we come in. From here, we recognize that the only way to receive is to share too. Both sides of the pipe must exist.

A critical aspect is that the desire and the capacity must be constantly growing. Judaism teaches that we must have big desires. In fact, it is a crime to have small desires because you are limiting what the Creator gives you. He wants to give you endlessly and having a small vessel, small desire, is preventing His light. He wants to give more! Have more desire. And once the desire is clarified, keep it growing, do not sit on it. If chickens wait too long sitting on the eggs, they cannot hatch. Be happy with your portion, but always have room for more desire.

Passover is a time of change. Change by having a desire for more, by choosing to grow. The ego enslaves us by wanting us to think small and stay stuck. Small desire is me, big desire is we. Before Passover, we burn the Chametz, the unleavened bread items. This is us burning our internal Chametz, our internal ego; the me, me, me focus. On Passover, we restrain from bread, from puffy, raised ego, and turn to Matzah, the flat, not showy ego. May we use Passover as a time to free our desire and reach for true transformation.

Shabbat Shalom

-Rabbi Eliyahu Jian

Eliyahu Jian May 22, 2024

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