Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Wisdom Wednesday #20 - The Evil Tongue

In all Jewish synagogues, the Torah is read yearly.  In this week's Torah parashas (portion) we studied about the Hebrew term lashon hara (or loshon hora) ( לשון הרע; "evil tongue").  Leviticus 19:16 says:

 “‘Do not go around spreading slander (lashon hara) among your people, but also don’t stand idly by when your neighbor’s life is at stake; I am Adonai."

 As many times as I have read this passage, I am always struck by how seriously Adonai takes negative speech.  Once again, I am examining myself about this sin.

In traditional Jewish thinking, lashon hara is one of the worst sins.  It has been said that lashon hara (disparaging speech) kills three: the person who speaks it, the person who hears it, and the person about whom it is told.  In this context, we think of gossip, or talking about someone else's business.  I think most of us understand how detrimental gossip is.  

I will never forget a lesson learned on this point.  I worked as a librarian for a large church,  and made an off-hand, unkind comment about one of the staff member's late library books.  Someone overheard me, and reported my words to the person I'd mentioned.  The staff member came to me, confronted me, and I realized my sin against her.  I asked forgiveness.  It was a good thing.  It taught me a lesson, even though it was very embarrassing.  I learned to watch my tongue.

Lashon hara covers more than gossip, though.  It covers a negative attitude.  It covers snarkiness, which has become very popular lately.  It cover cynicism.  It covers making fun or ridiculing someone.  In other words, it is any type of speech that is not positive and up-lifting.  I am reminded of Facebook postings and "likes" of snarky pics or comments made by others. Ouch!  I am convicted.  I repent with sorrow, and ask Hashem for forgiveness for that.

But wait...there is more.  Complaining is lashon hara.  Ouch!  That one stings, because lately I've been complaining quite often. (I won't elaborate).  I have repented and asked Hashem's forgiveness for this sin.  

This morning in my readings, I received a reminder to be vigilant in this area when I read:  "whining and complaining result from ingratitude."  This is so true.  When I stay focused on my abundant blessings, I have no room for ingratitude.  I confess, lately I had neglected to pray my daily gratitude prayer:

"Father, I thank You that I can see, and hear, and walk, and talk, and think, and that I have strength to work for Your Kingdom."  

On Shabbat, Rabbi Jem revealed to us the secret formula for a happy life:

"Who is the man who desires life and loves to see days of good? Guard your tongue from evil, your lips from deceitful speech! (Psalm 34:13-14)

King Solomon agrees, as many of his proverbs attest:  

"Whoever guards his mouth and tongue guards his soul from troubles." (Proverb 13:3)

Yeshua warns us against the unthinking use of our words: 

"For the mouth speaks what overflows from the heart. The good person brings forth good things from his store of good, and the evil person brings forth evil things from his store of evil.  Moreover, I tell you this: on the Day of Judgment people will have to give account for every careless word they have spoken;  for by your own words you will be acquitted, and by your own words you will be condemned.”

Filling my mind and heart with the Holy Scriptures by memorizing them and meditating on them, as well as keeping an attitude of gratitude daily are the antidotes for lashon hara. I'm embracing those instead of whining and complaining.  

I am thankful to Hashem for the reminder. 
 I'm sharing this post at:
Spiritual Sunday
Let's Get Social Sunday

Modest Mom Monday Link-up 

All Things Bright ad Beautiful LInk-Up

A Wise Woman Builds
Whole Hearted Wednesday 
Wake Up Wednesday
Whimsical Wednesday

Hearts for Home
Favorite Things 



  1. Gail, this is such a good word. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to Him.

    1. Lyli - thank you for the encouragement. That is my prayer, too.