The Portion of Metzora relates to a person who is afflicted with a particular rash the Torah calls a Nega. In our time we are not aware of what this affliction is. Chazal, however, tell us that it comes as a punishment for speaking לשון הרע, slander.
The story is told about Rabban Gamliel that he once sent his Shamash to the market to bring him that which is the best thing. He brought him a tongue. He sent him again to bring the worst thing. Again he brought a tongue. He asked him is it possible that the tongue is both the best and the worst thing? “Yes”, he answered, “there is nothing better than a tongue that speaks honestly and nothing worse than a tongue that speaks slander and gossip”.
Today we do not have the disease of Metzora but the wrong of speaking לשון הרע, slander, is still with us. The Chafetz Chaim, the author of the “Mishna Brurah” wrote an entire book on the subject to direct us on how we must act in speaking about others and in treating them in order to avoid slander. לשון הרע slander is considered one of the most serious wrongdoings of which we can be guilty and one of the most difficult transgressions to avoid.