shmirat haloshon - Bite Your Tongue

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

Elisheva Maline 

There is almost nothing more satisfying than when the underdog takes revenge on the bully or when the ex wife creams the vindictive husband in court and wins full custody. It is the triumph of the hero or heroine who finally get their own back. An hour or so after reading a book with this sort of story line, though, there is food for thought in wondering, "Could the story's hero have gained without sinking to his enemy's level?" After all, people are so many shades of complicated. Instead of seeing each other as foes, we'd be more likely to finish off difficulties without injury if we could get into the opposing person's shoes.

We can infer from what we know of the Chofez Chaim teachings that hateful languag most often stems from thoughtlessness,  stems from thoughtlessness or forgetting to think ahead, "How will my comment make the listener or the subject of the conversation feel?"  

What if someone is actually out for blood and one needs to defend himself? How does one avoid hurting the other person without getting crushed in the process? The answer: understand where s/he is coming from; take underlying motivations into account and counteract with mercy. First and foremost, shut down all impulsive judgment and action; bite your tongue. You may realize an hour, three days, or even a month later, that no one is so black and white that s/he deserves nothing better than a piping portion of poetic justice.  

Anyway, bitter banter tends to lead us to more of the same. How many people are still so small minded they fail to see the irony of arguing? In the end, who wins -- jerks like Jerry Springer. Just Think, if we stopped the madness, perhaps there would be room for connection and fellowship with the people who tried hurting us. Take the story Bridge to Terabithia. The protagonists, two fifth graders, suffer at the hands of a class bully. After Jesse and Leslie subjugate Janice Avery to public mortification, Leslie discovers that Janice's bullying is a result of the abuse she receives at home. Chagrined, she befriends the lost girl and the three kids ride off into the sunset. Halevei, if only we could settle more incidents like this.

At the beginning of his sefer (book) on shmirat haloshon, the Chofez Chaim mentions that loshon hara is at the root of major evils such as war, family feuding and broken friendships. If we refuse to cooperate with the primal urge to defend our invaded territory, so to speak, we may find ourselves with a wider circle of friends. There will definitely be more love in our personal lives. That's not to say that we should turn ourselves into doormats. Just recognize that it takes two to tango and no one else is forcing us into the boxing ring. What do we stand to gain by dragging out a fight, anyway?             

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