The first letters of “Tazria-M’tzora” form the word “meis” (dead), and the last letters (ayin-ayin) have the same numerical value as the word “kam” (to arise). The Torah warns us that one who speaks ill of others is punished by tzaraas (“leprosy”), for he has caused his death. However, if he guards himself from speaking lashon ha’ra and only speaks good of others, then “kam” – he will arise, for he has overcome his inclination to spread rumors about others. Woe to those who speak ill of others and will have no way to arise! That is why it is extremely important to be vigilant in regard to the sin of lashon ha’ra. [Pachad David]
In the late 1700s, there lived a father and son, Reb Hirsch and his son Sender, who were successful merchants in the tea business in Russia. They were sincere and honest businessmen, and their reputation for good prices and an even better product preceded them. Typically, Sender would meet his supplier in Leipzig, Germany, at the fair and take delivery of the tea at the Russian border. An unscrupulous competitor, motivated by jealousy and a lack of business ethics, knew of Sender’s schedule and decided to get even with him. He envied Sender’s success, although outwardly he pretended to honor him. His whole entry into the tea industry had only been a means of hurting Sender. He decided to involve the authorities to try to harm him. Of course, even if one’s business affairs are absolutely above board, a government investigation can still cause trouble.
The informer learned that the deal Sender had with his supplier in Leipzig was that the supplier remained responsible for the goods until after delivery. In order to cause trouble for Sender, he would have to make sure that Sender already owned the goods, in order to bear any of the losses. He schemed to denounce Sender’s supplier, the seller in Leipzig, to the authorities as soon as the shipment crossed the border into Russia, which is where Sender would take delivery. Thus, hoping the tea would be confiscated, Sender would have to bear the loss and the seller would have to deal with the criminal prosecution.
Sender traveled to Leipzig and made his deal. Knowing nothing about the impending scheme, he paid a large sum up front as was his custom. Meanwhile, a rumor spread that the authorities were investigating shipments of tea for evasion of custom duties. Fearful that he might be targeted, both seller and buyer agreed to keep the details of their transaction secret so as not to draw any unnecessary attention. The delivery was made. A few days later, the rumors were confirmed. A complaint was issued against a large shipment of tea. Sender and his father kept their goods in a secret location in order to avoid suspicion. Eventually, when the goods were sold, they were sold at a great loss because the tea simply went stale.
Rather than capitalizing on Sender’s loss, the informer ended up losing his fortune. It turned out that after the dust settled, the authorities seized his tea thinking it was the contraband! His scheme backfired on himself! He became sick and bedridden. People took great pity on him and donated money for him and his family. Only a few people were aware of his evil designs for Sender and his father, including Sender himself. In truth, he had succeeded, because Sender and his father abandoned the tea business after this harrowing experience. Nevertheless, because of their good nature, they kept everything a secret.
During the period when the informer was sick in bed, the time came to consider a match for his daughter. Due to his great poverty, as he had recently lost all his money, the scheming informer had nothing to offer for a dowry. Sender was a compassionate man and truly felt bad. One day, Sender decided to visit him. When the informer was told that Sender was visiting him, he could find no comfort out of sheer embarrassment of what he had done. When Sender entered the room, it was evident that the sick man wanted to say something, but he simply could not. Sender comforted him by encouraging him to trust in Hashem’s salvation. His gentle way penetrated the man’s heart. After Sender left, a packet of cash was found under the pillow where the patient lay. This was enough money to fund a handsome dowry for the sick man’s daughter.
When Sender passed away, he left over a beautiful family. The Baal HaTanya, Rav Shneur Zalman of Liadi zt”l, told the family that their father had been accorded an especially delightful place in Heaven in honor of his goodness. His great-granddaughter, Rebbetzin Rivkah, later became the wife of Rav Shmuel Schneerson zt”l, known as the Rebbe Maharash.