Monday, April 13, 2009

In memory of my Mom -- the importance of positive words

Tomorrow, April 14, 2009 marks the one year anniversary of my mother's death. She was a wonderful woman who loved her children unquestionably and unconditionally. She always had a positive word to say to me in whatever I strived to do.

She also loved to share a positive thought or word to strangers. At times I was even embarrassed at how she loved to speak to nearly anyone and compliment people on their service at a restaurant or the beauty of their baby, whenever and wherever she could.

The importance of positive words cannot be overestimated and it is what I believe is at the heart of the Jewish tradition of avoiding "Lashon hora" -- the evil talk.

Of course all traditions recognize the problem of inappropriate speech, for example in the Rule of Benedict in Chapter 4, "What Are the Instruments of Good Works" Benedict includes these three points:
  • (52) To guard one’s tongue against bad and wicked speech.
  • (53) Not to love much speaking.
  • (54) Not to speak useless words and such as provoke laughter.
But it seems to me that within Judaism the principle of lashon hora is looked at in such detail that one can learn much from it. I have written about lashon hora once before in this post.

On I found a number of talks on lashon hora by using the advanced search tool. One talk in particular that I liked was by Rabbi Hanan Balik entitled, "The Gossip Phenomenon and How to Combat It".

He starts it by saying that it is one shiur that can truly change your life. And I believe that, it is amazing to me how we are surrounded by this type of talk and how easy it is to fall into. Truly, these two lines from the Hebrew Scriptures could not be more true and important:
“One who guards his mouth and tongue, guards his soul from tribulations”
(Mishlei (Proverbs) 21:23).

“Which man desires life, who loves days of seeing good? Guard your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit...”
(Tehillim (Psalms) 34:13-14).

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