Shmirat haLoshon - The Word is Out

This post is dedicated in merit that Hershel ben Etya Sarah have a yeshuah.

By: Elisheva Maline

This is a thought I've mentioned in one of my previous articles but it bears repetition. Words are funny things. Once you say them, you forfeit ownership; you don't get to decide whether the listener(s) should accept or reject them and you definitely don't get to take them back. 

The Chofez Chaim brings in an important point to ponder, one that few people have considered. It takes two to tango and it also takes two to get the word out. In fact, the European sage says that one who listens to loshon hara and accepts what he hears is transgressing the sin of loshon hara more than the one who speaks. Moreover, one cannot assure himself that he will not accept the information as fact; it is still forbidden to listen. The risk is too great. Don't test yourself but do help your friend keep his mouth shut by giving him no one to talk to. Try cutting him off or walking away in the nicest possible way. Bring up the weather; that's always a safe topic.  

How can one discern whether he is on the verge of listening to loshon hara? He's bound to momentarily expose himself to information he didn't want to hear before cottoning on that he needs to change the topic. Now, take note of the brilliance of our holy Torah: there's a medrish in Genesis which mentions three parts of the body we have control over: the hands, feet and mouth. Then, it mentions the three senses we have no control over: our eyes, ears and nose. What one initially hears, sees and smells is out of his hands. After those first few seconds, though, the Torah expects one to spring to action. When your friend starts to tell you something related to people, ask him if the statement is a derogatory one. If he confirms that yes, it is, or something along those lines, use your imagination and alter the line of conversation. 

Since people tend to define their reality according to the senses they put their faith in whatever they see, hear, touch, feel or smell. This is a pitfall. Actually, this world, the way nature seems fixed and regulated, is one of G-d's biggest illusions. How does that old saying go? "Things are often not what they appear." G-d uses this world as a testing ground and grades us on our reactions to the various situations He puts us in. Don't forget Who the Guy in charge is and behave accordingly. Maybe use your time here to create harmony between people?

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