Sunday 10 January 2021

Shemirat Halashon

 My first thought in commenting on what is occurring in the world, specifically the Unites States of America, was to direct people to my article on Nishma: Policy -- The Adversarial System and the Torah Ethic of Justice  (at As I state in that article, the goal of an individual in disagreement with another cannot be simply to win. There are usually values in all perspectives and the goal must always be to find and properly connect these divergent values into a unity which reflect the Divine values of justice, truth and loving-kindness. Basically the article contends that the Adversarial System can promote dissension especially as it becomes further and further applied outside the limiting parameters of the courtroom. As we become more and more interested in the fight -- and simply winning the fight -- the violent outcome is chaos and this is what we are seeing. I invite you to read this article and consider how you can become part of the solution rather than the problem.

I have since also felt that while it is still was important to direct people to the above article, there was another important Torah value which necessarily further had to be be enunciated and that is the importance of our speech. The distinguishing mark of the human being is deemed to be the koach hadibbur, the power of speech and because this is so important within our very definition of being ovdei Hashem [servants of God] and reflecting the Tzelem Elokim [the Image of God] how we express ourselves in speech is most important. The call is to be most careful in what we say. From Torah we further learn that it is not enough to just be careful about what we say -- which is obviously extremely important -- but to also to be most careful in considering how we are possibly being heard and understood. Torah demands of us to be careful of our language. What we are now practically seeing is how important this actually is.

Shemirat Halashon, Watching What We Say, must be our commitment and our message.

Rabbi Ben Hecht

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