shmirat haloshon - How to Avoid Tripping up Regarding Misconceptions About Loshon Hara

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

Elisheva Maline

One of the most annoying misconceptions about loshon hara is that sharing information which is true is perfectly fine. Well, no, it's not: if one's words or manner of speaking might cause the listener to view the subject negatively, then it is loshon hara! And it doesn't matter if the information being shared is true. That doesn't change the news' status; it's still loshon hara. The only time it's okay to relate other peoples' shortcomings is when the subject is a blatant sinner and/or when one's intention is to protect the listener from potential harm. I've said this in other articles already but it bears repetition, "Tread with Caution." 

Also, "עזות דקדושה - Be brazen about the evils of loshon hara." Several years ago, I was invited to the home of a Rabbi for shabbos. After the meal, I asked his wife if I could riffle through their picture album. This couple has no children of their own but since they've raised, birthed and hosted plenty of people over the years I was anticipating pages of smiling faces. Instead, leaf after leaf showed pictures of flowers: petunias, tulips, daisies, snapdragons, clematises, amaryllises and bluebells. There were very few pictures of people. When I asked her why the retired midwife relied, "Flowers don't speak loshon hara." I was taken aback but she got her point across.

One of my personally favorite pieces of advice was a tidbit a friend shared with me. She has a downstairs neighbor who avoids talking about people altogether. Remember: big minds discuss ideas, average minds share the latest news and small minds gossip about neighbors and family. Where does your mind wander off when you're spacing out? My friend's neighbor seems pretty relaxed and happy, doesn't appear to be missing out on too much and she's always cheerful when I run into her. 

Obviously, it would be great to zap negative judgments but let's start small. Instead of looking for problems in others, look for positive traits. Can we refocus the course of our thoughts? Aside from the fact that with a minimal amount of loshon hara everyone would smile more, our bags of deeds would have less evil weighing them down. Just saying.        

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