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aloha e bb and dauer - a quick note to say that Mary Douglas's new book "Jacob's Tears: The Priestly Work of Reconciliation" is going to be released on January 15, 2007. The title itself is interesting because it would appear that "reconciliation" will be a key word in the years ahead as we try to move this world to a new phase of harmony and balance. Mahalo to you bb for introducing me to Mary Douglas's books and mahalo to you dauer for introducing me to Mila Yomit "The Torah, word by word" .... many people in their own ways are beginning to unravel the sacred knowledge (the "huna" or the inner mysteries) of Judiasm that is necessary in this great time of change in which we decide which fork in the road to take .... this cannot be forced on people, but through gentleness, passion and wisdom, we can all be taught and hopefully will come to the conclusion that "reconciliation" and peace and harmony (or righteousness) is what we seek for our universe, our planet, and our children .... to my mind, that is the covenant, the responsibility that G-d has left us ....

I have this small booklet about the "10 habits of positive speech" which starts by saying that "Lashon hara is the Hebrew term for speech that can cause pain or harm to others. Judaism teaches that positive speech is one of the most important steps towards good relationships, tolerance, and a better world." In my own culture of hawaii nei we are taught as children not to speak words until your heart, your vocal cords, and your mind all all flowing in harmony. As I begin to learn the Torah word-by-word I can see how the inner meaning of the sounds in Hawaiian and the sounds and symbols in Hebrew are connected to that ancient path of wisdom and knowledge .... these are the seeds of reconciliation .... the seeds are also present in the deepest knowledge of other traditions .... what a beautiful tradition you, my priestly friends, are part of .... he hawai'i au, poh
Hey Poh.

Glad you're enjoying that mila yomit subscription. If you're interested in a much more in-depth analysis of lashon hara, there's a really great one that runs in cycles, e-mail thing also. Lemme see if I can find it. Found it. The daily companion: A daily lesson from the Chofetz Chaim.

A daily lesson from the Chofetz Chaim: A Daily Companion/Mesorah Publications.
· To subscribe or unsubscribe: e-mail us at with subject subscribe/unsubscribe...

This is the website:

Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation - CCHF.

That e-mail may be old. I subscribed to it a while ago. There's another e-mail listed at the site if that one doesn't work. But as it existed when I used it, great resource. I have all of the e-mails backed up on my hard drive for when I need them.

mahalo dauer - I'm checking it out and will try the new e-mail address .... aloha nui, poh
this is very interesting .... I did a search on Lashon Hara and went to Judiasm 101, here is part of what was written:

The Power of Speech

Judaism is intensely aware of the power of speech and of the harm that can be done through speech. The rabbis note that the universe itself was created through speech. Of the 43 sins enumerated in the Al Chet confession recited on Yom Kippur, 11 are sins committed through speech. The Talmud tells that the tongue is an instrument so dangerous that it must be kept hidden from view, behind two protective walls (the mouth and teeth) to prevent its misuse. The harm done by speech is even worse than the harm done by stealing or by cheating someone financially, because amends can be made for monetary harms, but the harm done by speech can never be repaired. For this reason, some sources indicate that there is no forgiveness for lashon ha-ra (disparaging speech). A Chasidic tale illustrates this point: A man went about the community telling malicious lies about the rabbi. Later, he realized the wrong he had done, and began to feel remorse. He went to the rabbi and begged his forgiveness, saying he would do anything he could to make amends. The rabbi told the man, "Take a feather pillow, cut it open, and scatter the feathers to the winds." The man thought this was a strange request, but it was a simple enough task, and he did it gladly. When he returned to tell the rabbi that he had done it, the rabbi said, "Now, go and gather the feathers. Because you can no more make amends for the damage your words have done than you can recollect the feathers."

One of my teachers (Hawaiian kapuna "elder") taught that "the combination of the mind (spirit) and heart (emotion) expressed through word was the creative force in the world around hawai'i's ancestors. The person in sufficient control of that knowledge can stand on a shore and speak the word AU to a drowning man and the man will not drown. The language is the key to the knowledge. The person in sufficient control of himself (with both mind and heart working together posotively) can refuse to accept negativity and return 'bent words' to their source. (now here is the interesting part). She said there is a woman well known in the Islands who was taken by her father when she was little into a big field of sticky weeds on a windy day. He opened a paper bag and shook out a pound of chicken feathers. He said "I want you and your sister to go and pick up every feather." The girls looked in horror at the sight of all those bits and pieces flying - some sticking to leaves and branches - some gone forever - and began to cry. "Remember" said their father, "words are like the feathers. You must think before you speak for your words have power. Once expressed, they can never be taken back again for any reason and they may create results you never intended. I do not want you to cry for words."

He Hawai'i Au, poh
I submit that the harm is from NOT using speech. Words reveal what is inside. If a person does not like the words coming from a tongue then he does not like something inside. Before there was a word there was a thought and the thoughts alone are already in the air. All things physical are like the feathers described. All things including thoughts. Which is better: to be open and revealing to others or to be closed in fear of the judgement and/or condemnation from them?

That it is feared that words cause unintended results shows that a person thinks words are used to cause intended results. Words are used to reveal. Not exactly per the speaker's will. The listener is the one who chooses what to do with them.

I realize the Noahide law against blasphemy. False testimony and slander are attempts to control with intended results... rather than to reveal. What are the other forms of speech that are considered harmful in Judaism?

I think you're missing the point a little. That story is talking about the types of situations where you go behind someone's back and start talking badly about them, then you go and apologize. It's a different issue to bring something to someone privately. But then we could also ask, 'What is the best way to bring a character issue to someone privately?'

There is a lot of discussion about proper language in Judaism. That e-mailing I suggested to Poh is a very extensive discussion of them, albeit not the only understanding of them, and from one particular view. But generally the biggest issues are with slander and gossip.

Let's say that it's true that Fred has been leaving his house every night and going somewhere and not telling anyone about it, and I've noticed. So I go and I tell Nancy, but I think it's curious. But now Nancy tells Betty and and Loretta. By the time they've passed on their message, not only is is odd, but it's highly suspicious. So the message keeps getting passed on until the whole town's talking, and now it's not just suspicious, there's a lot of talk about what he's probably doing. Well, it turns out he was going out each night to help care for his sick friend in another town. But because the gossip has spread so far and gotten so bad, the truth is unable to fully exinguish the damage that's been done to Fred's honorable name. Now if you want to think of an even more extreme example, look at the shows on television that talk about famous people, and the tabloids.