IN THIS parashah are described the laws applicable to a person to whom strange stains appear, whether on his body, on his clothes, or on the walls of his home. Not all stains required a long and tedious process of recovery for several weeks, for they came in different colors and shapes and sizes. The priest was an expert in differentiating which of these stains caused the person to be solitary confinement. So far it doesn’t seem so serious, does it? What is difficult to understand is why the infected person had to shave his head, tear his garments, and to top it off, proclaim loudly before all, “Unclean, unclean am I! and go outside the camp of the children of Israel. What was the meaning of this apparent “ritual”? The Sages anticipated this concern, explaining that these infectious stains appeared when someone spoke ill of other people, provoking with his gossip the separation between husband and wife, or between good friends. We all experienced at some time the uncomfortable embarrassment we felt when someone spoke ill of us. Many times it is very difficult to repair the damage of this serious sin, and other times it is impossible, because gossip spreads quickly among people, like fire that burns a wheat field. Therefore, this whole process of seclusion was a lesson for the gossiper, to afflict his heart with the purpose of making him reflect, repent and ask for forgiveness. So, if you are ever asked: Do you know so-and-so? Does he know how to work? Is he intelligent? Think twice before answering.