Redeeming speech

A Metzora was someone afflicted with a skin condition that was not an ordinary physical malady. The sages teach that it often came about as a result of speaking negatively of others.

The Metzora’s process of purification includes two birds (Leviticus 14:4). Why two birds? If it is to atone for gossiping, shouldn’t it be one?

The Zohar (Tazria 46) offers an incredible insight. The person who misused his words didn’t just violate one error, he made two mistakes. He or she shouldn’t have said the negative thing, but in so doing they also forfeited the moment from saying something positive. One bird atones for the lashon ha’rah, and the other atones for the positive thing that could have been said in that time and space instead.

The craving to talk, to communicate and connect with others is natural, it is part of the human psyche. Maybe one of the ways we can combat lashon ha’rah, negative gossip, is to speak positive gossip instead. Connect and converse with something that will build instead of demolish, create instead of destroy, uplift instead of knock down. (Rabbi Efrem Goldberg)

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