Power of Speech
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Power of Speech

Lesson Summary:

This lesson is part of a unit called "Repairing The World" from www.LearningToGive.org, a resource that offers philanthropy education resources that teach giving and civic engagement. 

The other lessons are:
Love Your Neighbor Like Yourself
The Whole World In Our Hands

The purpose stated on the site is:

"This lesson highlights the importance of monitoring speech. Students develop an understanding of the positive and negative effects of speech and are encouraged to use speech only for good."


"The learner will:

  • learn a song that teaches the meaning of the verse "V’ahavta Lereacha Kamocha" (Leviticus 19:18).
  • identify ways that one can help a friend, both in and out of the classroom.
(taken from learningtogive.org)

Be Inspired:The ideas included are offered as starting points as you and your students explore, discover and live the lessons. Be sure to elicit and encourage student and parent participation, consistently reinforcing the value being addressed. Allow lessons to authentically develop and change based on engagement and interests.

Lesson Plan Components

For the educatorJewish Thought, Text, and Traditionsmore

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? 

Jewish every dayIncorporate Jewish Valuesmore

Materials and resourcesmore



Explore, Discover, and More Extension and Reinforcement Activitiesmore

Music Connectionsmore

List of All Songs

Songs about Using Nice Words:


literature connectionsmore

TitleAuthorIllustratorBook Summary
Words Are Not for Hurting Elizabeth VerdickMarieka HeinlenWords contain much power and can be harmful and hurtful. Children learn how to use positive words to express negative emotions such as frustration and anger. The book’s activities and discussion starters teach children to apologize sincerely.
A Sack Full Of Feathers (Picture book) Debby WaldmanCindy RevellYankel loves to tell stories, as long as they are someone else's. He does not see the hurt that his stories cause, the way they spread and change. Then the rabbi hands him a bag of feathers and tells him to place one on every doorstep in the village. Yankel is changed by what happens and finds himself with his best story yet, one of his very own.
Yettele's Feathers Joan RothenbergJoan RothenbergYettele loves nothing better than a good conversation. With her husband gone, she goes out--and the trouble begins. Yettele just can't help putting her nose in everyone's business. Soon her stories about the local townsfolk are flying around. A kind Rabbi shows her the error of her ways. An Eastern European folktale is suffused with old-world charm.
* PJ library Books
Lesson Contributors

Lesson from: learningtogive.org