Words matter. A distracted parent’s thoughtless reply to a child can be devastating. A friend’s insensitive response to a text can test a relationship. An impatient spouse’s flippant remark can lead to an argument. An authority figure aggressively challenging evidence-based facts can have deadly ramifications. Words can hurt and words can heal, especially the words of a leader. This past year we’ve seen too much contempt, disdain and hate in the discourse. We’ve heard too many words that have divided and incited us. Jewish law prohibits lashon hora, which literally means “evil tongue” and is used to describe derogatory speech about a person. It is such a severe violation in fact, that both the teller and listener of lashon hora are guilty of transgression. As we celebrate this Shabbat Zachor, the Shabbat of Remembrance immediately preceding Purim, which is next week, it’s important to remember that words matter – and that we can all do better at expressing ourselves.
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