Nazarene Space


The Sin of Lashon HaRa
By
James Scott Trimm




One of the greatest violations of Torah is that of Lashon HaRa (evil speech).  While most men would not think of attacking another with a physical weapon, many will not think twice before harming another with Lashon HaRa.

In Revelation 12:10 we read:


"…the accuser of our brothers… who accused them
day and night before our Eloah."
(Rev. 12:10)

When HaSatan comes before the throne of Elohim with accusation, there can be little doubt that the accusations are true (why would he even try to lie to the All-Knowing One). The Torah requires two witnesses for a case to brought. Thus HaSatan is always on the look out for a collaborating witness. When we engage in Lashon HaRa we place ourselves in the position of becoming HaSatan's collaborating witness.

The strategy of accusation includes both "slander" and "lashon hara". "Lashon HaRa" (the evil tongue) is the sin of harming another person with words, even when they are true. Those who would never harm a person with a stick, but would not hesitate to harm them with words. The Torah tells us:

You shall not go up and down as a talebearer
among your people; neither shall you stand idly
by the blood of your neighbor: I am YHWH.
You shall not hate your brother in your heart.
You shall surely rebuke your neighbor,
and not bear sin because of him
You shall not avenge nor bear any grudge
against the children of your people,
but you shall love your neighbor as yourself.
I am YHWH.
(Lev. 19:16-18)

From these verses we learn not to be a “talebearer” and we learn that we are not to run around rebuking others. We are not to run around saying “did you know that Fred….?” even if the information with which we have to rebuke Fred is true.

The tongue is a weapon that can destroy:

Be not called a detractor;
Use not your tongue for calumny
(Sira 5:16)

13: Curse the whisperer and doubletongued: for such have destroyed many that were at peace.
14: A backbiting tongue hath disquieted many, and driven them from
nation to nation: strong cities hath it pulled down, and overthrown the
houses of great men.
15: A backbiting tongue hath cast out virtuous women, and deprived them of their labours.
16: Whoso hearkeneth unto it shall never find rest, and never dwell quietly.
17: The stroke of the whip maketh marks in the flesh: but the stroke of the tongue breaketh the bones.
18: Many have fallen by the edge of the sword: but not so many as have fallen by the tongue.
19: Well is he that is defended through the venom thereof; who hath not
drawn the yoke thereof, nor hath been bound in her bands.
20: For the yoke thereof is a yoke of iron, and the bands thereof are bands of brass.
21: The death thereof is an evil death, the grave were better than it.
22: It shall not have rule over them that fear Elohim, neither shall they be burned with the flame thereof.
23: Such as forsake YHWH shall fall into it; and it shall burn in them,
and not be quenched; it shall be sent upon them as a lion, and devour
them as a leopard.
24: Look that thou hedge thy possession about with thorns, and bind up thy silver and gold,
25: And weigh thy words in a balance, and make a door and bar for thy mouth.
26: Beware thou slide not by it, lest thou fall before him that lieth in wait.
(Sira 28:12-26)

Ya’akov HaTzadik writes at length about how dangerous the tongue is (James 3:3-12).

The Baal Shem Tov addressed the issue of slander and lashon hara in many of his teachings:

When one hears an uncomplimentary report about another Jew, even if the listener does not know the individual referred to, the listener should be very deeply pained. Either what is being said about the individual is true and the talebearer is spreading gossip (albeit true), or it is not true and the talebearer is spreading false gossip. In both cases, the talebearer is acting outside of the bounds of the Torah.
- Rabbi Yisrael ben Eliezer (The Besht)
 
"Slander kills all three" - the inventor of the slander,
the one who relates it, and the listener.
This is all in spiritual terms,
which is more severe than spiritual murder.
- Rabbi Yisrael ben Eliezer (The Besht)

It lies upon you to love your comrade as one like yourself.
And who knows as you do your many defects?
As you are nonetheless able to love yourself,
so love your fellow no matter how many defects you may see in him.
- Rabbi Yisrael ben Eliezer (The Besht)



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Views: 534

Comment by Larry J Pratt on November 14, 2015 at 8:19am

thank you for this teaching.  You say that Lev 19 vs 17 says "do not rebuke your neighbor".  All the translations that I checked say "rebuke your neighbor".  Why the difference?

Comment by Mikha El on November 14, 2015 at 12:17pm

Lev 19:17 לאH3808 תקםH5358 ולאH3808 תטרH5201 אתH853 בניH1121 עמךH5971 ואהבתH157 לרעךH7453 כמוךH3644 אניH589 יהוה׃H3068

Here's the verse in question. Check out the definition of "primitive particle" "Lo" (1st and 3rd words) (no or not) My guess properly translated would be "Don't or Do Not".

Comment by James Trimm on November 14, 2015 at 11:48pm

I cut and pasted this quote when I first wrote this article many years ago, so I do not know where the source for that translation is,. but I have corrected it, it should say "You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him." as it does in the HRV

As Rashi explains it "but You shall not bear a sin on his account: I.e., [in the course of your rebuking your fellow,] do not embarrass him in public. — [Torath Kohanim 19:43; Arachin 16b]"

Comment by Rick on November 15, 2015 at 9:34am

 I have also read to embarrass a person in public is akin to murder . rebuking/embarrassing makes one blush causing the blood to rush to the face as if he/she has died .

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