Freedom and wisdom in speech
Torah Portion: Tazria (She Conceives) Lev. 12:1-13:59 Metzora (Leper) Lev.14:1-15:33
Haftorah Reading: II Kings 4:42-5:19, II Kings 7:3-20
Messianic Scripture Matthew 8:1-4, 11:2-6, Mark 1:40-45, Matt. 9:20-26, Hebrews 13:4
Today we read and study two Torah portions. Both are also represented in the Messianic Scriptures. The subject of both is bodily discharges that cause uncleanness to the person or object involved. The name of the first Torah portion is Tazria. What is interesting to us is that both Tazria and Metzora are mentioned in different places in the Messianic Scriptures.
First let’s define the words and then look for references. Tazria has to do with conception and childbirth. It also covers any chronic loss of blood. We read in both Matthew 9:20-21 and Mark 5:29-33 the case of the woman suffering from an ongoing issue of blood. This is talked about in Tazria. In Matthew 8:2-4 we read of the man coming to Messiah and asking Him to heal his leprosy. In these cases Yeshua followed Torah in instructing these two people. He told them to go to the priest in the Temple and present themselves to be declared ritually clean. Only then would they be able to join in the spiritual life of the country and be in contact with other people. Otherwise, if they were not clean they might transmit their uncleanness to another person.
I would like to talk in more depth about the topic that may have much to say to us in our lives today, leprosy. Historically, Judaism has associated this disease with the biblical story of Moshe’s sister, Miriam, when she gossiped to Aaron about Moshe’s wife. Apparently she did not care for her. The immediate result was she was stricken with leprosy. In Psalms 12:4 we read, “May the L-rd cut off all smooth lips, the tongue that speaks proud things.”
In Genesis 37 we read where Joseph brought a bad report to his father concerning his brothers. What was the result of that? We read on of the broken relationships, and the hatred and envy his brothers had toward him. This affected their lives even until the death of their father.
Also read Mark 3:20-30. Here we see both Yeshua’s family and the teachers of the law saying Yeshua was possessed by Beelzebub. Yeshua rebukes that and later says in verses 24-25, “If a kingdom is divided against itself that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself that house cannot stand.” Based on this it seems to be a sin to engage in sharing something, even if it is the truth, if it disparages another person.
Most of us tend to think of language as a means of conveying information. Certainly that is true. But even more important, our language should be used as a tool to build up a person and contribute to a fair and cohesive society. Not only are our words important but also how they are delivered is even more important. Do we allow our own prejudices to color our truth, or our choice of words or our attitude?
When we talk about a person, or a system do we do it in a way that does not color what we say? Our words should be directed toward cementing our common bonds as people, as a society and personal respect for another.
Our conversations should be more than just sharing truth as we see it. Our words, our conversations should contribute to the sustaining of relationships so that our family, groups, village and finally nation as a whole can function smoothly without splitting apart whenever there is conflict between people, friends or family. Truth and G-d’s word must be our ultimate guide. However, that truth must be presented from G-d’s perspective and not our own prejudices.
We live in a time of instant everything. News is 24/7 and often presented with no thought of truth but leans toward what is popular or what will bring along the biggest ratings. Our children are bombarded with social media, sometimes to the point of suicide.
Cyber bullying has become the lashon hara, evil tongue, of our world. People can say anything, things they would never say face to face. Even G-d’s people fall into this trap. We forget that we all are created in the image of G-d. We are all His creation. Evil speech has become the new normal in our time.
All of us are free to give our opinion on things that beset our country. The danger occurs in how we do it, the words we use and motivation behind our words. Free speech is not speech that costs nothing. It must be speech that respects the freedom and dignity of others. If we forget this it becomes very costly to each of us.