Imagine stabbing a friend in a fit of anger.
As the knife blade sinks into his chest,
your friend gasps in astonishment.
Bewildered, his face contorts in excruciating
pain. Losing blood and succumbing to shock,
he collapses. Fortunately, an ambulance soon
arrives and rushes your friend to the hospital.
Although he recovers, his chest is marred for
life by an ugly scar.
Hard to imagine you would do that, isn't it?
And if you did, I am sure after realizing the
harm you have done, you would never repeat
such an act. Yet, many of us, almost daily,
stab the people we know. We use invisible
knives that do not draw blood.
The weapon of choice is LOSHON HORA.
(Speaking against others).
"You shall not go about as a talebearer
among people." (Vayikra 19:16)
This kind of evil not only hurts others,
but IT CREATES IN US A SICKNESS OF MIND
AND BODY. It weakens our moral essence
and damages our life-force.
Why is speaking LOSHON HORA
considered so damaging? Because
the harm we do is just as vile as
that produced by a real knife.
LOSHON HORA wrecks havoc on
others' self-esteem and creates
hostility, fear and despair.
The great scholar, healer and Rabbi,
Maimomides wrote that a supernatural
kind of disease is sometimes sent to
warn someone to refrain from speaking
Yet, if we work to eliminate our tendency
to talk about others, we may be able to
effect Tikkun HaNefesh (repair of our soul)
and perhaps our minds and bodies.
How can I stop speaking "LOSHON HORA?
The next time you feel like wounding
someone with caustic words, pause for
a moment, and in your imagination, make
your knife visible. Once you realize the
harm you are about to do, I'm sure you
will stop. Sometimes the harm we inflict
is so subtle, we are unaware of it.
What to Do when LOSHON HORA is spoken
against you? Here are some tips.
Use the LOSHON HORA as a learning experience.
That is, REMEMBER THE PAIN you feel, and vow
not to do the same to others.
REMEMBER,THEY ARE USING INVISIBLE WEAPONS,
so are unaware of the pain they are causing.
REMEMBER THEIR PAIN. What do I mean by that?
When people are mean, it doesn't necessarily
imply that they hate you personally. It's
more likely because they are miserable
Try to remember that most of the time
when people talk about you or get after
you, it isn't you they are talking about
but something inside themselves you may
not know about.
"Perhaps some other person has been
mean to them, or something they hoped
for didn't come true, or they did
something they are ashamed even to
think of, so they talk about others
just to keep their minds off it."
EVALUATE THE LOSHON HORA.
Although the criticism is probably not
objective, there still may be some truth
to what they say. Try to use this as an
opportunity to grow. Remember, we are all
imperfect and others may see our flaws
more clearly. Learn from them whenever
you can, but don't return the favor
by criticizing others!
Final Thoughts. Here's a valuable point
made by Judge Harold Medina:, "Criticizing
others is a dangerous thing, not so much
because you may make mistakes about them,
but because you may be revealing the truth
Samuel Johnson said: "God Himself, sir,
does not propose to judge a man until
his life is over. Why should you and I?
Be patient with the faults of others;
they have to be patient with yours."