This Shabbos we read Parshas Behaaloscha. At the end of the Parsha, we read of the story of Miriam, the great prophetess, who spoke lashon hara – disparaging words against her brother Moses. Miriam was punished with tzaraas, the affliction that befalls one who says words of lashon hara. In Deuteronomy (24:9), the Torah tells us “Zachor es asher asa Hashem … L’miriam… - Remember what Hashem did to Miriam on the road when you left Egypt.” Why is what happened to Miriam the example sited to teach us a lesson about Lashon Hara?

Miamonidies, at the end of the Laws of Tzaraas, offers a beautiful thought. “This change that occurs in garments and on houses is not a normal sickness. It was a sign and a miracle that occurred to the Jewish people in order to keep them away from lashon hara. When someone spoke lashon hara, the walls of their house would become afflicted. If they repented, then the house would become cleansed. If not, the house would be destroyed, and tzaraas would appear on their garments and on their leather utensils. If they repented, they would become cleansed. If not, the garments would be burned, and the tzaraas would appear on their flesh. The person who had tzaraaas would be banished from their home, and would have to stay away from the entire community. Regarding this the Torah warns us and says, “Remember what Hashem did to Miriam when you left Egypt.” The Torah is telling us, think about this, what happened to the great prophetess Miriam who spoke about her younger brother Moses, who she raised, and who she risked her life to save at the Nile river. She didn’t say bad things about him, only that she mistakenly compared him to other prophets. He didn’t mind all of this, as the Torah tells us, “And Moses was very humble.” Nevertheless, she was immediately punished with tzaraas. Certainly wicked, foolish people who speak about others, will be punished. Therefore, stay away from those who speak bad of others,…

There are so many lessons to be gleaned from this one example of Miriam!! Even if the person we want to speak about “wouldn’t mind”!! Even if it’s not “so bad”!! Even if it’s someone who owes their life to us!! Even if it’s not in public, only to one relative!! (Miriam only spoke to Aaron).

Our commentaries teach us that today, when we don’t have tzaraas, Hashem afflicts those who speak lashon hara with poverty. Certainly, we all strive for financial security and success. Let’s make sure to stay away from Lashon Hara, and may Hashem grant us all success in all our endeavors.