The Big Kehuna by Daniel Wenger


The power of words can be seen throughout the sections of the Torah discussing the Metzora.  Speech plays key roles throughout all of the processes of the Metzora, from declaring him contaminated to declaring him pure.  The laws of the Metzora are all in place to show Bnai Yisrael the importance of watching what they say.

The most noticeable of these sightings is in the word Metzora itself.  The Gemara says that this word is a contraction of Motzi Ra, someone who brings out evil.  Someone who is branded a Metzora has the detrimental title of someone who indulges in evil, which may impact severely on his life in adverse ways by making him less credible and less likable.

However, there is even a stronger use of language impacting the Metzora that is meant to teach him just how powerful words can be.  When the Metzora sees marks of Tzaraat on his body, he must come before the Kohen to be examined.  The future of the Metzora is then in the hands of the Kohen.  All the Kohen needs to do is say the word “impure” and the Metzora must leave the camp for at least one week.  Similarly, after each week of impurity has passed, the Kohen must reexamine the Metzora, and only when the Kohen pronounces the Metzora “pure” can the Metzora then undergo the final process of purification, which includes bringing various Korbanot and going to the Mikva.

This is just one of the many examples of the power of a Kohen’s speech.  Nowadays, even though the Halachot of Tzaraat are not applicable, there is still one major occasion when a Kohen’s words have strong meaning.  On all Yamim Tovim, and every day in Israel, the Kohanim bless the congregation.  We are given the blessing that Hashem should bless us, protect us, and favor us.  These words can have a profound effect on people’s lives because the words of the Kohanim are taken by Hashem to be true.

The connection between Hashem and the Kohanim can be seen throughout the Kohanim’s services.  When a Kohen receives Teruma or a portion of a Korban to eat, he eats it as if Hashem is really partaking of the food, since it is really Kadosh and thus not fit for use by any regular person.  Also, the Kohanim are the ones who can come the closest to Hashem, being allowed into the Kodesh section of the Mishkan and Bait Hamikdash.

From the above references we can the see the power of speech, especially when used by the Kohanim.  We should make sure to always be careful to watch what we say about other people, lest we damage our own reputations.  We must also make sure to respect the Kohanim, for it is through them that we can come closer to Hashem.

צא ולמד by Rabbi Yosef Adler

The Power of Words by Yoel Eis