Rabbi Chaim Feld has launched a campaign to zap loshon hora (a Hebrew term for “evil tongue”). “Loshon hora,” says Rabbi Feld, “is any talk that causes mental anguish, tarnished reputation, or the lowering of someone’s esteem in others’ eyes.” He wants to put a stop to it.
Good luck with that, Rabbi—you’re declaring war on gossip, our favorite pastime; threatening to taint the taste of something we love. “There is nothing so delicious as the taste of gossip” (Prov. 26:22 CEV). Sure beats brussels sprouts.
Paul said that those God gave over to a “depraved mind” had “become filled with … evil, greed and depravity … full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice.” Whew! Nothing there that we’re guilty of. Hold on—he’s not quite finished: “They are gossips, slanderers …” Uh oh!
He scorched some gals with too much time on their hands: “they get into the habit of being idle … and not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies” (1 Tim. 5:13).
“I’m going to tell you something,” she whispers, “but you mustn’t tell a soul.” She won’t—except her closest friends; and that only after they promise they won’t tell a soul. They won’t—except their closest friends. And there you go.
What you say is out of your control the second you say it. You can’t “unspeak” something that has been spoken any more than you can unring a bell, unscramble an egg, or put toothpaste back in the tube.
When you’re dumping garbage in her ear, she’s getting a subliminal message to be careful—“If she will talk to me about others, she will talk to others about me.”
Someone talking trash about your child gets your dander up, right? Well, when you gossip, you’re bad-mouthing God’s kid, and he’s gonna to be miffed.
Gossip implies that you are better than the person you’re trashing. It may make you feel superior, but it doesn’t make you superior. Putting someone down doesn’t build you up.
Have you ever received an anonymous letter? Sleazy. Despicable. Cowardly. Disgusting.
(Do you have time for an aside?) Renowned preacher Henry Ward Beecher received a letter with just one word: “Fool!” Reading the letter to his congregation, he said, “I’ve received quite a few letters from people who forgot to sign their name, but this is the first one I’ve ever received from someone who signed his name but forgot the write the letter.”
Desire for anonymity is a warning to slam on the brakes. So here’s my suggestion—don’t say anything about a person unless you would be willing for it to be repeated with your name as the author. Still better, picture the person you’re talking about just around the corner, hearing every word you speak.
If you’re looking for a job, don’t scan the classifieds for mote-hunters. That’s a crowded field with more applicants than job openings. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus told us to get the two-by-four out of our eye before trying to flick the speck of sawdust out of our neighbor’s eye. Judging others is presumptuous, self-exalting, vain, and hypocritical. “Who are you to judge your neighbor?” (Jas. 4:12).
Before spewing a juicy bit of scuttlebutt, ask these questions:
Is what I am about to say going to help me?
Is it going to help the person I’m telling it to?
Is it going to help the person I’m telling it about?
Is it true?
Is it kind?
Is it necessary?
Let’s put the kibosh on loshon hora!