Simcha's Torah Stories - Tazria - Metzora
Parshas Tazria - Metzora
WATCH WHAT YOU SAY
Chaim, it's getting late. Time to start getting ready for bed.
Just a few more minutes, Mom.
You've had so much time already, Chaim.
But I'm doing my math homework, Mom.
What's the matter Chaim, you look upset.
Mr. Gross, our math teacher gives us so much homework. He makes it so hard for us. I think he does it on purpose because he doesn't like us.
Chaim, that's not a very nice thing to say.
I'll tell you something else. His clothes are not so neat and clean. Sometimes I want to laugh when I look at him. How can someone who is teaching a subject as precise as math, be so sloppy in his appearance?
Chaim, I'm sorry but I must stop you from saying anything further. You are speaking lashon hara.
What do you mean lashon hara? Everything I've said is 100% true.
That's precisely what lashon hara is, Chaim. Any derogatory statement made about another person is lashon hara. Even if it is true. If it is not true, it has a different name: motzi shem-ra. I had to stop you because you are not allowed to say lashon hara, and I am not allowed to listen to it.
Why is that, Mom? Mr. Gross will never find out.
Chaim, I'm sure you have heard of the Chafetz Chaim.
Sure, Mom. He was the great Rabbi who lived about 100 years ago. His name was really Rav Yisrael Meir Kagan.
Do you know how he came to be called the Chafetz Chaim?
I always wanted to know, Mom.
He wrote a book entitled, "Chafetz Chaim".
How did he come up with such a name?
He named it after a verse in Psalms. "Who is the man who desires life (chafetz chaim), who loves days of seeing good? Guard your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit." (Psalms 34:13) Someone who wants to live a long, good life must watch what he says. He must be on guard all of the time. Gossip, deceit, or slander must never cross his lips.
But I still don't understand how it works, Mom.
Every time someone speaks lashon hara, he downgrades his fellow man. If the person being spoken about hears it or finds out about it, he will have bad feelings towards the speaker. When others hear the lashon hara, it lowers their opinion of the one being spoken about. All of this causes nothing but bad feelings between people. In the days of the Beis HaMikdash, people who spoke lashon hara used to contract a terrible disease called Tzara'as. This week's double Parsha - Tazria/Metzora is all about this ailment. The one who had spoken lashon hara and was subsequently stricken with Tzara'as had to go into isolation until he was cured. That was part of the healing process. When he was all alone, he could not speak any lashon hara because there was no one to speak to. Also, he would have time to contemplate and realize that such a severe disease must have been caused by a serious crime.
Mom, I never realized that I had to be so careful about my speech. I will surely do my best to never say anything like that about Mr. Gross again. By the way, here is a note that Mr. Gross asked all of the students to give to their parents.
Mr. Gross is asking all of the parents to come to a special meeting with him tonight.
Oh, no. He is probably going to scold us for all of the bad things we have been saying about him.
Let's try to keep a positive attitude Chaim. Let me make a few phone calls to make arrangements to go to the meeting.
That night, Chaim could not fall asleep because he was worried about the meeting. What terrible things did Mr. Gross have to say about the students who spoke badly about him?
Mom, is that you?
Chaim, you should have been asleep a long time ago.
I know, Mom, but I was worried about the meeting. What did Mr. Gross say?
Believe it or not Chaim, he called the meeting out of concern for the students. He saw that you were having trouble with the new math, so he wanted to explain to the parents how to help the students understand the subject. Now I will be able to help you with your homework.
Is that all he said Mom?
No, he also spoke about the class.
Oh, no. I was afraid of that.
He praised all of the students in the class for their seriousness and dedication. He said that you are all fine children. He thanked us for giving him the privilege of teaching you.
No, I'm not. Mr. Gross is really a very fine man. Thank G-d you have such a good teacher.
Mom, tomorrow I'm going to go right up to Mr. Gross and tell him how much I appreciate being in his class. I'm going to thank him for being such a caring teacher.
Chaim, Rav Yisrael Meir, the Chafetz Chaim would be very proud of you.
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