Word Power

Back about 10 years ago, when I was trying to keep up on all of the Hebrew words that were surrounding me, I would try to learn a new word each week.

Here’s a good one: lashon hara.

The Hebrew term lashon hara (Hebrew לשון הרע; "evil tongue") is the halakhic term for derogatory speech about another person.  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.

Speech is considered to be lashon hara if it says something negative about a person or party, 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. It can be through face-to-face conversation, a letter, telephone, or email, or even body language.

I admire my sons, for they are pretty good at following this law. They would say, “Mom, if a statement is going to give someone a negative opinion or impression about someone, we are not allowed to say it.” Oh how easy is it to say something very innocent or back it up with “bless his/her heart”! --and out comes disrespectful, demeaning, critical, negative, unfavorable, uncomplimentary, unflattering, insulting, abusive, rude, nasty, hurtful. -----lashon hara

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29).

Let’s seek the good in others and use words that are complimentary, flattering, appreciative, congratulatory, admiring, approving, commendatory, favorable, glowing, raving.

“You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor nor defer to the great, but you are to judge your neighbor fairly. You shall not go about as a slanderer among your people, and you are not to act against the life of your neighbor; I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 19: 15-16)

In closing may I copy one of my favorite prayers, one received from our own, Brother Jimmy D? “Precious Father, Loving God, Holy Spirit heal me to understand that what I say will affect those I speak to. Help me Lord so that when I need to speak, I speak in love, and if I can’t Lord, then please help me to not look back, keep my eyes on you and just Shut Up and Dance! AMEN!”

Jill Maclay

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