Chazal assume the word METZORA is really a condensation of the words MOTZI SHEM RA that means to speak evil about someone else. The Torah talks about the disease that will afflict the body and Chazal say it is as a punishment for LASHON HARA. In the Book of Mishle we read MAVET VECHAYIM BEYAD LASHON, “death and life are in the power of the tongue”. (18:21) [Note: the usual quotation is HACHAYIM VEHAMAVET BEYAD HALASHON.]
How can life and death be controlled by the tongue? The answer is simple. We can destroy a person by saying bad things about him to others. We can even endanger people’s lives by ruining their reputation and destroying their livelihood. On the other hand, if we say something nice or good about a person we are actually helping them and enhancing their lives.
The lesson is exceptionally important. We should be extremely careful of what we say about others. Think twice before saying something good or bad about your friends or members of your family. The Torah in this week’s portion speaks of the severe punishment facing a person who speaks LASHON HARA. We must never forget how seriously we can affect the lives of others simply by a few words.