This week, the Torah describes the types of defilement that a person can be afflicted by that emanate from the person himself. They are described as skin lesions that affect the body and hair.
Although it is manifested in a person’s body, our sages tell us that it is caused by a spiritual malaise, namely the spreading of slander, which is considered a serious crime.
Wherever the afflicted person goes, he is instructed to call out, “unclean, unclean!”
The literal meaning of this verse is that he was required to alert people when he approached so that they did not become contaminated through contact with him.
However, this verse has an additional interpretation when inserting a comma and it reads, “He who is unclean calls everyone else unclean.”
This idea is supported by another well-known statement that a person who insults others generally projects his own defects onto them.
Indeed, the world can be understood as a mirror, wherein its reflection one sees his own image. A person with healthy self-esteem will see the good in everyone, however, a person with character flaws will find those faults within others.
This is commonly seen when criticizing or rebuking others. Even if we have the finest of intentions for the person’s benefit, we should give serious thought to where our words are coming from.