Believers are being built together as ‘living stones into a spiritual house offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to Adonai’ (1 Peter 2:5). When we lashon hara, we become a stone that contains ‘mold and mildew’ in that house. According to the regulations for skin infections, the infected stone must be removed and put out (Leviticus 14:41-45).
Niddah is the Hebrew word describing the seven days when a woman is ‘unclean’ during her period and has not completed a mikveh or ritual bath. ‘Unclean’ means being ‘in a state of ritual impurity.’ These seven days are also known as tumah which refers to the period of time when sexual relations between a husband and wife are not to occur. Being ‘ritually impure’ or ‘unclean’ does not mean a woman is in a sinful state or inferior. It is quite the opposite. Scripture emphasizes the holiness inherent in a woman’s cycle to create and nurture a new life within her womb. When as woman is ‘ritually impure,’ it only means she is incapable of conceiving a child.
As I considered James’ words, I realized how the tongue can quickly destroy people and relationships. In a moment they can go up in flames from a blazing wicked tongue. When I’ve read this passage before, I only thought of the tongue being the fire and how we needed to guard our tongues, but I never considered the devastation the fire would leave behind and how difficult it would be to dig through the debris and that rebuilding would be very difficult.