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    Leprosy – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. Are the Biblical laws about leprosy in a house still relevant?

    gossip whisper talk lashon hara slanderA. Yes, but only if you take them metaphorically.

    There is a well known interpretation that reads m’tzora, “a leper”, as motzi ra, “one who utters evil talk”. A scandal monger brings suffering upon others (both those who hear his words and those he talks about) – but also upon himself and his own house.

    A family that indulges in evil talk harms the whole neighbourhood and the whole of society.

    The Talmud (Arachin 16a) gives a number of explanations of these laws and suggests that “leprosy” in a house is caused by meanness. If you are mean and thoughtless towards your neighbour then both your house and his are losers.

    The Talmud also says, at the end of tractate Sukkah, “Woe to the wicked and woe to his neighbour – but when someone is good and generous, it is good to be his neighbour”.

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