In this week’s Parasha, we are told many details regarding one who is suffering from Tzaraat, a rash that appeared on the skin of those who transgressed the prohibition against speaking Lashon HaRa. The affected area had to be shown to a Kohen, who would then prescribe the actions that are necessary to heal the individual of his affliction. The correct method of Teshuvah for speaking Lashon HaRa was distancing one’s self from the community for a period of time to be determined by the Kohen, shaving one’s head, and bringing a Korban.
One might think that we are fortunate in our day and age not to have to undergo such a rigorous and uncomfortable punishment for engaging in something so seemingly minor as speaking Lashon HaRa
Surprisingly, it is the converse that is true. It will be a fortunate occasion when Klal Yisrael will once again have a clear indication of a transgression such as that of Lashon HaRa. Tzaraat enables one to know about their problem before it is too late, and allows them to repent for their transgression. Picture a person brought before Hashem to be judged, after 120 years has passed, only to discover that he had said so much Lashon HaRa. The person will protest "But I gave Tzedakah, I set time for Torah study and I observed Shabbat and Kashrut almost perfectly.” The person is punished anyway because all of the Lashon HaRa he said. If only he would have known about his sins, and would have been able to do Teshuva, and he would not have to undergo all of the suffering in Olam HaBa.
A story is told of the renown Tzaddik Rav Aryeh Levin in which someone stole a precious article from the Levin household. Rav Levin saw what occurred and immediately pursued the thief calling "I forgive you!" "I relinquish all ownership!" "It's yours!" "It's yours!" He didn't want the thief to have the transgression on his head for the rest of his life. This is comparable to the punishment of Tzaarat. When the transgressor was done with the cleansing process, he had completely repented, and the sin of Lashon HaRa was no longer over their head. However, now that there is no cleansing process, there is no way to do Teshuva for Lashon HaRa; therefore, we must be even more careful with our language, now that we don’t have Tzaraat to warn us when we are speaking improperly. B’ezrat Hashem, we can learn from the Tzaraat, and at the end of fulfilled life of 120 years, we will be free of the burden of Lashon HaRa and able to proceed happily to Olam HaBa.