Lesson 11

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Lesson #11

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Speaking loshon
horah in jest


  1. I’m a kibitzer and I often make jokes about friends.  I do
    it in good humor and have no intentions of causing harm.  Is that okay?
  1. Not really.  If you speak derogatory words about a fellow
    Jew, even if you have no intention of degrading him, i.e. you spoke in
    jest; you are still violating the prohibition against speaking loshon

Leaving out the


  1. Look, I don’t like speaking loshon horah; so what I often
    do is tell the story but leave out the names.  Is that okay?


  1. It depends.  If the listeners can’t figure out who it’s
    about, then it’s okay.  If they can, then you’re in violation of speaking
    loshon horah.  As a matter of fact, even if you don’t mention his name and
    there’s nothing derogatory in your speech about the person, but you’ve
    caused him harm and that was your intention, you have transgressed the
    prohibition of speaking loshon horah.

Underhanded loshon

  1. That one went over my head.  Can you give me an example?


  1. Sure!  The Gemora Yerushalmi (Meseches Peah Chap. 1 Hal.1)
    relates the following:  There was once a workforce setting out to work.  One
    of the workers, a fellow named Bar Chovetz, didn’t show up that day.  His
    coworkers, in an attempt to surreptitiously bring this to the attention of
    the taskmaster, began asking each other: “what shall we eat today?”  One
    of them responded: “let’s eat chuvtzah”, a type of legume.  When the
    taskmaster heard this he exclaimed: “hey, that reminds me, where is Bar
    Chovetz”.  This, said Rebbi Yochanan, is considered underhanded loshon
    horah.  Notice, nothing negative was said about Bar Chovetz, nor was his
    name mentioned.


This section is
formatted as a conversation between Oded and Menaseh.   Oded is encouraging his
friend Menaseh to be more careful in guarding his tongue from evil speech.  The
thoughts in this section are primarily based on the sefer, Shmiras Haloshon.

Oded:  We are in the middle of analyzing the posuk
that states: “Remember what Hashem your G-d did to Miriam on the way when you
left Egypt”.  We mentioned that the posuk is informing us of 4 things which we
need to direct our attention to.  They are:

1.      What  (What did Hashem do)

2.      Who  (To whom did he do it)

3.      Where  (Where did Hashem do this)

4.      When  (When was it done)

Menaseh:  We already covered the first 3, so today,
we need to discuss the “when”.

Oded:  The posuk tells us that this incident occurred
when they left Egypt.

Menaseh:  What is the significance of that?

Oded:  This incident occurred at the beginning of the
second year from when they left Egypt.

Menaseh:  So?

Oded:  At that point, the Jews were as yet unaware of
the extreme severity of the sin of loshon horah.  No one, to this point, was
really punished with tzoras.

Menaseh:  Wasn’t Moshe punished with tzoras when he
inserted his hand into his bosom and it came out white with tzoras?

Oded:  That’s correct, but it was only for a few
moments that he had tzoras.  Miriam was the first person to have tzoras for an
extended period of time as a result of speaking loshon horah.

Menaseh:  So again, why is the Torah mentioning that
this happened when they left Egypt?

Oded:  To show you how severe loshon horah is in the
eyes of Hashem.  Even though Miriam didn’t yet know the great severity of
loshon horah, she was still punished very harshly.

Menaseh:  If Miriam, who was unaware of the great
severity of speaking loshon horah, was punished so harshly, certainly, we, who have
Miriam to learn from, will be punished even harsher if we don’t guard our
tongues from loshon horah.

Oded:  That’s’ correct.  As a matter of fact, the
miraglim (the spies who scouted the land of Israel in the time of Moshe) were
punished very severely, since they should have learned from Miriam just how
much Hashem despises loshon horah and they didn’t.

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1) Sefer Chofetz Chaim Sec. 1 Chap. 3 Par.

2) Sefer Chofetz Chaim Sec. 1 Chap. 3 Par.4


Sefer Shmiras Haloshon Sha’ar Hatevunah Chap. 12

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