In this week’s Torah portion we learn about a person who part of his skin turns into a bright white color. The Torah calls this a “Tzaraas Affliction” and provides us with many details how to determine that it is indeed a Tzaraas affliction and what a person who receives this affliction must do to cleanse himself from this affliction.
The Kabbalistic commentaries explain that this type of affliction was heavenly sent to a person who was righteous but was not careful about not speaking badly about others. This is why he deserves this skin affliction which is only the exterior part of the person since he is a person who is inwardly righteous and is just not perfectly careful in his outward interactions with others.
However, this seems contradictory how can a person be righteous and yet malign other people?
The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that there are two ways that a person can engage in speaking badly about others. There can be an individual whose heart contains hatred or jealousy and therefore he maligns the person whom he dislikes. Then there is a person whose heart is pure of malicious intent, yet, he is not careful to guard his speech and allows his tongue to run loose and speak negatively about other people. It is the second type of evil talk that brings about the Tzaraas affliction.