One of my favorite Divrei Torah on this week’s double-Torah reading comes from my Yeshiva days in Yeshivat Har Etzion.
“If a person has on the skin of his flesh a rising or a scab or a bright spot… a plague on the head or upon the beard… and when the plague of leprosy is in a garment… and I put a plague of leprosy upon a house in the land of your possession…” (Vayikra 13:2, 13:29, 13:47, 14: 34).
“The plague of leprosy comes a punishment for lashon ha’ra (slander), which is done by chattering, therefore birds are compulsory for the leper’s purification, because these chatter continuously with a twittering sound… The lofty cedar tree was used because plagues come as a punishment for haughtiness (Arachin 16b)” (Rashi, Vayikra, 14:4).
Lashon Ha’ra and haughtiness emanate from the same root – the trait of pride. One who feels he is better and deserves more than other people allows himself to speak disparagingly of others, to point out their faults and to comport himself with haughtiness towards those around him.
In order to uproot this trait, the Tzara’at affects everything belonging and connected to a person. First and foremost (according to the simple meaning of the text) – his body; then his hair (whose roots emerge from his head, but which do not actually constitute part of his body); later on, his clothing, which does not belong to the body at all, but which are placed on it; and, finally, a person’s home, which while belonging monetarily and sentimentally to him, the person does not come into direct contact with it.
When the arrogant person takes to heart the fact that he and everything that belongs to him is subject to change, that the Controller of him and everything connected to him is the real Home Owner, he will appreciate his true status, take a step back and ditch his pride.
(Source: Rav Yonatan Grosman and Motti Safrai in Daf Kesher, Yeshivat Har Etzion, Nissan 5752, No. 331; with my embellishments).