Use Nice Words/ Avoid Hurtful Speech
Use Nice Words

The Talmud teaches us that when we speak poorly about others, it not only harms the person spoken about, but harms the speaker and listener as well (Arachin 15b). While Lashon Hara can be translated as "evil or false tongue," it typically refers to speaking ill of others. As such, it can be taught that one meaning of Lashon Hara is to use nice words. Judaism is completely aware of the power of words and speech, so much so that much of the Yom Kippur liturgy (prayer service) includes asking G-d forgiveness for one's ill statements about others, or even themselves.

The notion of Lashon Hara also teaches us that we should not spread rumors or speak about individuals without them present. When we do not speak kindly about others, we are insulting them. Because all of us are created b'tzelem elohim, in the image of G-d, perhaps an act of lashon hara towards another is as if one were insulting God himself.

Questions for Reflection:

  1. Describe a time in which you may have spoken poorly about someone else? What motivated you to speak of this person this way? 
  2. We learn from tradition that it is important to use nice words when describing others. What can you do to speak favorably about someone whom you may have spoken about negatively in the past? 
  3. How can you utilize the value of lashon hara within the classroom? 

Use your words to help and be kind--if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it at all.