Lashon Hara and Rechilut: Two Types of hurtful speech
- Lashon Hara
Lashon Hara (literally “evil tongue”) refers to true statements that harm, embarrass, cause financial damage to, or lower the status of the person being discussed.The fact that a statement or incident is true does not mean that others have the right to know about it.
There are many unpleasant truths about ourselves that we understandably don’t want made known to others, and we would regard those who spread such information as doing us a wrong. So too, is it wrong for us to relate negative truths, or express critical opinions, about people to those who have no need for this information.
Rechilut, a particularly damaging type of lashon hara, occurs when we pass on to someone hurtful things another has said about him or her. While this may seem justifiable, almost all of us say unkind things about others, particularly, but not only, when we are annoyed at them..Passing on these comments can cause great anger and stimulate an ugly fight, even a rupture in a relationship
- Why lashon hara is so difficult an offense for which to make amends
Lashon Hara often does incalculable damage to the good name of the person being discussed. Unlike a physical injury, where the full extent of the trauma is usually obvious, lashon hara is likely to be repeated by those who hear it, and they in turn will tell it to others, thereby causing an ever-expanding circle of harm. Even if the speaker eventually regrets the damage he has done to his victim’s reputation, it is usually impossible to undo it by getting in touch with all the people who heard the negative report.
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