The High Holidays are approaching. Every year we think about how to live lives more pleasing to God. This is an annual time to look inside, to look at the results of our choices and attitudes during the previous year, and to look ahead to a year lived more like the image of our Father. I know that one area we need to think seriously about is Lashon Hara, the evil tongue. I offer the following thoughts, largely based on Joseph Telushkin’s A Code of Jewish Ethics
Lashon Hara (the evil tongue) is not slander, which means untrue statements defaming another person. Lashon Hara is about true statements that in any way damage another’s reputation or cause embarrassment. Lashon Hara could also cause financial damage or simply demean the one we are talking about.
Are there some exceptions? Are there times when we must make negative statements about others? Yes, but we too easily excuse ourselves and imagine that we often have a right or a need to speak ill of others. Instead of focusing on exceptions (we’ll discuss them in another post), we need to think about the great harm of Lashon Hara.
Rabbi Telushkin gives some examples of common speech that would be classified as Lashon Hara: