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Lashon hatov: Good speech

לשון הטוב

Translation by Yeshoshua Siskin

Lashon Hara (derogatory or negative speech) is the main subject of the Torah portion we just read on Shabbat. It's a Parasha that describes the punishment of Tzara'at, a skin condition characterized by blemishes that result from negative speech. But what about lashon hatov - good, positive, or complimentary speech?

Many commentators caution that just as we need to refrain from negative speech, we need to be mindful of instances where we could say something positive, but refrain from doing so. The idea is not to remain silent, but rather to say something positive and admiring: Why not compliment someone who deserves it? Why not say something praiseworthy about someone who did something good? And, in general, why not share beautiful thoughts and uplifting ideas? Why not use this powerful tool of speech in order to praise, to gladden hearts, and to simply give others a good, revitalizing feeling that elevates their mood?

In the Holy Zohar it is written: "Just as a person is punished for evil speech, he is punished for good speech that he could have spoken but did not."

This is a reminder to look around and search for opportunities to speak in a positive and complimentary manner.


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