Lashon hara literally means, in Hebrew, "the evil tongue" and derives from the Torah which says:
"You shall not go about as a talebearer among your people; nor shall you take a stand against the life of your neighbour: I am Yahweh" (Lev.19:16, NKJV).
Evil speech conists of negative comments both true and untrue. Lashon hara which contains fabrication or lies is specifically and additionally called motzi shem ra which literally means "putting out a bad name" and violates Leviticus 19:16. If motzi shem ra leads to the one abused by lashon hara being HATED this is called Rechilut. This has historically resulted in a great deal of bloodshed, hence the heineousness of the crime and why it is consistently equated with murder. The part of the passage which says, "[you] nor shall you take a stand against the life of your neighbour" renders the Hebrew, Lo tamod al dam re'eicha which literally translated is, "do now allow the shedding of the blood of your fellow (brother/sister)". Since this refers to the whole person, it can either be the literal shedding of blood (dahm) or it can be mental or emotional abuse too. Thus speaking evil of someone in public, whether it is true or not, constitutes either literal murder (if hatred leads to the taking of someone's life, or even suicide for that matter) or mental and/or emotional murder. For an example of how evil speech resulted in the destruction of a whole city (Nob), see 1 Samuel 21.
The prohibition of rechilut applies even if a person did not intend ill-will against someone else. Thus it is written:
"I will guard my ways, lest I sin with my tongue" (Ps.39:1, NKJV)
It is also written:
"These six things Yahweh hates,
Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:
1. A proud look,
2. A lying tongue,
3. Hands that shed innocent blood,
4. A heart that devises wicked plans,
5. Feet that are swift in running to evil,
6. A false witness who speaks lies,
7. And one who sows discord among brethren"
Those who habitually gossip and talebear are called ba'alei lashon hara or "masters of lashon hara". Because their behaviour (which has become so integral with their character) is so anti-social and destructive, their transgression is all the more severe because this leads to chilul Yahweh or "desecration of the Name of Yahweh":
"You shall not profane My holy name (Yahweh), but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel. I am Yahweh who sanctifies you" (Lev.22:32, NKJV).
We are to be very careful even with publically-known information because of the nature of the sin of slander. Thus it is written:
"The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself. But if a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; because of the righteousness which he has done, he shall live" (Ezek.18:20-22, NKJV).
"You shall ... fear your Elohim: I am Yahweh" (Lev.19:14, NKJV).
Lashon hara not only can ruin the lives of those against whom it is directed but most definitely destroys the lives of those who use it. It is a satanic bacillus and must be stamped out of Messianic Israel because it can potentially harm or ruin everyone who comes into contact with it.
If you have been involved with lashon hara in any way, approach the peron or persons you have abused and make things right. And then ask Yahweh for His forgiveness, for blaspheming His Name and Holiness:
"Be holy, for I am holy" (1 Peter 1:16, NKJV).
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