B"H
METZORA
 
THE FIVE BOOKS OF MOSES AND FIVE POWERS OF POSITIVE SPEECH
 
It’s in the Name
In this week’s parsha, the Torah introduces the topic of purification of the Metzora, the person afflicted with skin lesions, with the words: “This is the Torah of the Metzora.”
The Midrash observes that the word “Torah” appears five times in relation to the subject of tzara’as, corresponding to the Five Books of Moses.
The Midrash explains the connection between tzara’as and the five books of the Torah: When one’s language is corrupted, as is the case of one who slanders others (lashon hara) which results in the tzara’as affliction, it is tantamount to spurning the five books of the Torah.
When we examine the names of the five books of Moses we discover that they are, in fact, all associated with speech.
Let’s start with the last book of the Torah, Deuteronomy, which is known in Hebrew as Devarim, and means “words.”
The Book of Numbers in Hebrew is Bamidbar, “in the desert,” but it may also be read as midaber, and translated as “a speaker.”
Leviticus, in Hebrew Vayikra, “And He called,” refers to G‑d calling Moses; calling is an action that involves speech.
Exodus, or Shemos in Hebrew, means “names” which one uses to call and communicate with others.
Genesis - Bereishis means “In the beginning.” The Talmud states that this word also connotes speech. The Talmud refers us to the Ten Utterances (e.g., “Let there be Light”) with which G‑d created the world. However, when we count the actual number of times G‑d says “Let there be…” we find only nine utterances. The Talmud answers that “Bereishis is also an utterance.” In fact, it is the ultimate utterance, one with which G‑d created the entire universe; the other nine utterances relate to specific aspects of Creation.
Upon deeper reflection, we will see that positive speech is the underpinning for the five themes represented by the Five Books of Moses. Conversely, negative speech, which our Sages implicate as the cause of the sickness of tzara’as, undermines the very foundation of each of the five books and the themes they epitomize.
 
Bereishis; Speech to Sustain the World
Let’s begin at the beginning with Bereishis:
As mentioned, the leitmotif of Bereishis is Creation of the universe through Divine speech. Divine speech is a metaphor for the mechanism G‑d used to create a world endowed with the appearance that it has its own independent existence. The Alter Rebbe, in his work, the Tanya, explains that Divine speech represents G‑d’s power to project His light outward to create a reality that sees itself as independent. G‑d wanted an independent world so that we, of our own volition, will seek and discover G‑d’s presence in everything; and by so doing, come to the recognition that the world is no more than a manifestation of Divine speech.
G‑d’s Ten Utterances are in constant need of rejuvenation.  We accomplish this by connecting the Ten Utterances to the Ten Commandments (or more accurately, the Ten Statements) given at Sinai.
More specifically, the Zohar states that G‑d looked into the Torah, the blueprint of creation to create the universe. Whenever we study the Torah, we help sustain the universe. Divine speech created the world. When we engage in Torah study we keep that force of creation alive and robust.
And while Torah study requires thought, our Sages place great emphasis on verbalizing the words of Torah that we learn. We must articulate those words to reinforce the Divine speech with which G‑d created the world.
 
Positive Speech Liberates
The book of Shemos highlights the formation of the Jewish people through the Exodus and their receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai.
The upcoming Festival of Liberation of Pesach, according to the Arizal, is also a festival of the liberation of speech. The word Pesach, the Arizal teaches, is a composite of two words, peh and sach, which translate as: “the mouth that speaks.”
When the Jews were enslaved in Egypt, their power of speech was also confined; they lost their ability to express themselves. The power of speech, which is what distinguishes us as humans and as Jews, became occluded.  The Exodus not only freed their bodies but also their power of speech.
So, while the Book of Bereishis highlights the power of speech to sustain and stabilize the world, the book of Shemos focuses on the Redemptive power of positive speech.
Speech, in general, is a medium that reveals the inner parts of our personality. More specifically, when we say words of prayer it enables us to vent our deepest feelings that may have been bottled up. Likewise, when we say words of Torah it also liberates us.  As it says in Ethics of the Fathers (Chapter 6): “There is no free person other than the one who is preoccupied with Torah study.” Moreover, when, as the Rebbe exhorted us to do, we study the parts of Torah that discuss Redemption, it enhances our ability to unleash the powers of Redemption, both internal and external.
 
Positive Speech: The Power of Divine Intimacy
The book of Vayikra concerns holiness; specifically, the holiness associated with offerings in the Bais Hamikdash by which a Jew would become close to G‑d, as the word Korban denotes.
When we say words of prayer and Torah, they edify, uplift and sanctify us. We are catapulted into a different spiritual world; a world of intimacy with G‑d.
 
Positive Speech: The Power to Traverse the Desert of Nations
The book of Bamidbar is about the journey of the Jews through the desert. Desert is a concept that we also use to describe the trials we experience in exile amongst the hostile nations of the world.  All of the external and internal negative forces that we have endured throughout our sojourn in the “desert” of exile are ameliorated with words of Torah and prayer.
 
Positive Speech: The Power to Change
Devarim, which features Moses’ words of rebuke, inspiration and prophecy about the ultimate future in the last few weeks of his life.
Devarim represents the power to excite us to observe the commandments and to do Teshuvah, return to G‑d on the road to the Final Redemption. Devarim is about our obligation to emulate Moses and use our power of speech to inspire others to change.
The negative speech associated with the Metzora also negates the Five books of Moses, because it destabilizes the world (Bereishis), keeps us confined (Shemos), strips us of holiness and intimacy with G‑d (Vayikra), leaves us in a vulnerable state in the “desert of nations,” (Bamidbar) and denies us the opportunity to change (Devarim).
Positive language of all kinds strengthens the world, frees us, sanctifies us, gets us out of exile and enables us to change geographically and emotionally.
 
Five Features of Redemption
The Five Books of Moses and the parallel power of positive speech correspond to five features of Geulah:
The world will become a stable world (Bereishis).
The Jewish people will be totally free of subordination (Shemos).
Holiness will be restored through the Bais Hamikdash (Vayikra).
All negative forces and evil nations will be defeated (Bamidbar)
The integrity of Torah and Mitzvos will be restored  and we will all reach the exalted level of Ba’alei Teshuvah (Devarim).