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Parashat Tazria- A Gossiper’s Prayer

Parashat Tazria speaks at length of the laws of the Sara’at skin disease that would descend upon a person as a punishment for Lashon Hara – speaking negatively about other people. A person who was determined to have been stricken with Sara’at was quarantined, and was required to live in solitude outside his city. The Torah writes that as the person made his way from his home to his place of solitary confinement, he would have to announce, "Tameh Tameh!" ("Impure! Impure!" –13:45). On the simple level of interpretation, this announcement was required in order to warn people to keep away from this individual. People were urged not to come near the person stricken with Sara’at so that they would not become Tameh (ritually impure).

The Sages, however, noted an additional reason for this announcement. The Mesora (person stricken with Sara’at) would inform everyone of his condition so that they would pray on his behalf. Essentially, he was saying, "Help me! I have Sara’at! Please pray to God that I will soon be healed!"

The obvious question arises, why doesn’t the Mesora pray for himself? Why must he implore others to pray for him?

The Hafetz Haim (Rav Yisrael Meir Kagan of Radin, 1839-1933) explained, quite simply, that the Mesora’s prayers cannot be accepted. Having contaminated his mouth through sins of speech, by speaking derisively about other people and indulging in gossip, he has lost the power of Tefila. The prayers that come from such a mouth are tainted and damaged; they cannot achieve the desired effect. For this reason, the Mesora has no choice but to ask others to pray on his behalf, until he corrected his sinful tendency and repented, thereby regaining his mouth’s purity which we need for our prayers to gain acceptance.

This is also why we begin the observance of Yom Kippur with the "Kol Nidreh" service, in which we formally annul any vows that we had taken. Before we spend Yom Kippur praying for forgiveness, we must first ensure that we are not guilty of sins involving speech. Otherwise, our prayers are futile. If our mouths bear the stain of forbidden speech, then our prayers are ineffective.

A gossiper not only hurts the people he speaks about; he hurts himself. We all have difficult problems and concerns, we all desperately need the Almighty’s help on so many levels. Nobody can afford to forfeit the power of prayer by contaminating his mouth. Let us ensure to keep our mouths free of sin, so that our prayers will have the desired effect and proceed directly to the heavens, where they will be lovingly and eagerly accepted by God.


Related Parasha
Parashat Tazria-Mesora: Revealing Our Hidden Treasures - 2020 Year
Shabbat Ha’gadol – Celebrating Our Status as Hashem’s Children - 2019 Year
Parashat Tazria: Eliyahu Ha’nabi and the Berit Mila “Redemption” - 2019 Year
Parashat Tazria-Mesora: The Way to Ruin Your Children’s Future - 2017 Year
Parashat Tazria: Childrearing and Prayer - 2016 Year
Parashat Tzaria: Sara’at and Confronting Hardship - 2015 Year
Parashat Mesora: Correcting the Sin of Lashon Ha’ra - 2014 Year
Parashat Tazria: Learning From the Sacrifices - 2014 Year
Parashat Tazria: Looking Out for Today’s Mesora - 2013 Year
Parashat Tazria: Childbirth and Eliyahu Hanabi - 2012 Year
Shabbat Morning Class - Parasha Tazria / Metzora - 2012 Year
Parashat Mesora- Why a Kohen? - 2011 Year
Parashat Tazria- Divisiveness Within the Family - 2011 Year
Shabbat Morning Class - Parasha Tazria / Metzora - 2010 Year
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Parashat Vaetchanan: A Reason for Consolation
Parashat Debarim- A Nation Defined by the Torah
Parashat Matot-Masei: The Potential Within the Darkness
Parashat Pinhas: The Covenant of Peace
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Parashat Korah: The Origins of Korah’s Revolt
Parashat Shelah: Fulfilling Our Mission
Parashat Beha’alotecha- Teaching and Growing
Parashat Naso- Rectifying the Sin of Adam and Hava
Shabuot- Sara Imenu and the Roots of the Jewish Monarchy
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Parashat Behar: The Way to Look at a Fellow Jew
Lag Baomer- Reinforcing Our Bitahon
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857 Parashot found