Tuesday, August 6, 2013


The 40 Days of Repentance before YOM KIPPUR, Day of Atonement, begins today. I thought it would be appropriate to begin with a topic everyone can relate to having experience with whether on the giving or receiving sides. Lashon Hara or evil speaking is something we can all relate to and may have cause to repent of.  Please reflect on the following segments.

The Definition of Lashon Hara
Lashon Hara is any derogatory or damaging statement against an individual. In Hilchot Deot 7:5, Maimonides supplies a litmus test for determining whether something is or isn't Lashon Hara:

Anything which, if it would be publicized, would cause the subject physical or monetary damage, or would cause him anguish or fear, is Lashon Hara.

34:11 Come children! Listen to me!
I will teach you what it means to fear the Lord. 21

34:12 Do you want to really live? 22
Would you love to live a long, happy life? 23

34:13 Then make sure you don’t speak evil words 24
or use deceptive speech! 25

34:14 Turn away from evil and do what is right! 26
Strive for peace and promote it! 27

21 tn Heb “the fear of the Lord I will teach you.” In vv. 13-14 the psalmist explains to his audience what it means to “fear” the Lord.
22 tn Heb “Who is the man who desires life?” The rhetorical question is used to grab the audience’s attention. “Life” probably refers here to quality of life, not just physical existence or even duration of life. See the following line.
23 tn Heb “[Who] loves days to see good?”
24 tn Heb “guard your tongue from evil.”
25 tn Heb “and your lips from speaking deception.”
26 tn Or “do good.”
27 tn Heb “seek peace and pursue it.”

You shall not go around as a gossipmonger

Evil gossip kills three: the one who says it, the one who listens, and the subject of the gossip

The following article is a great beginning point for understanding of Lashon Hara.

Laws of Lashon Hara
Parshat Behaalotecha
By Aryeh Citron


Lashon hara
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Hebrew term lashon hara (or loshon hora) (Hebrew לשון הרע; "evil tongue") is the halakhic term for derogatory speech about another person.[1] Lashon hara differs from defamation in that its focus is on the use of true speech for a wrongful purpose, rather than falsehood and harm arising. By contrast, hotzaat shem ra ("spreading a bad name"), also called hotzaat diba, consists of untrue remarks, and is best translated as "slander" or "defamation". Hotzaat shem ra is worse, and consequentially a graver sin, than lashon hara.[1]

The act of gossiping is called rechilut, and is also forbidden by Jewish law.[1]

Speech is considered to be lashon hara if it says something negative about a person or party, is not previously known to the public, is not seriously intended to correct or improve a negative situation, and is true. Statements that fit this description are considered to be lashon hara, regardless of the method of communication that is used, whether it is through face-to-face conversation, a letter, telephone, or email.

The sin of lashon hara is considered to be a very serious sin in the Jewish tradition.

Torah.org has an extensive section on the ethics of speech. Follow the link below and remember to support the efforts of all those we refer to as you are able.

The Arthur B. Morgenstern Shemiras Halashon Section



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