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Metzorah -“Positive talk”

“Positive talk”

In describing the Metzora’s [leper’s] purification, the Torah states

“Vetzivah hakohen velakach lamitaher shtei-tziporim chayot tehorot …..”

“The Cohen shall command to take for the person undergoing purification two live, pure birds……” (Vayikra (Leviticus) 14:4).

The Zohar explains that two birds were necessary for the offering: one bird as atonement for bad speech and one bird as atonement for “good speech”! Now there is an obvious need to atone for bad speech, such as slander, but why is a sin offering warranted for “good speech”?

Often we have the opportunity to offer positive speech, yet we remain silent. Positive speech is a very powerful tool in influencing someone. “Good speech” can help a person grow can increase self esteem and encourage the person to accomplish aims.  This encouragement is something we all have the ability to do at some point in our lives and we all too often refrain from doing so. Thus, by remaining silent and refraining from “good speech” we are responsible for stunting a person’s mental and spiritual growth.

The sin offering for “good speech” is a sin of omission. In this situation, one might think that we are doing nothing wrong – nothing negative was said! Yet, the lack of positive speech can be as demoralizing as negative speech, if not worse. Negative criticism may be hard to swallow, but at least attention is being given. However, in the case of no feedback, a person can feel completely ignored, as if they or their work are trivial and insignificant. Therefore, one does not only need to bring a korban (offering) for the bad speech, but even for the omission of “good speech”!

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