The danger of a weapon in the hands of an enemy is measured not only by the destructive power of its impact, but also by its range. A missile that can travel long distances is far more dangerous than a tank or bazooka.
In interpersonal relationships, the effect of an insult or emotional hurt also has a range. Words have the power to inflict great pain and suffering, and their long-distance capabilities certainly require caution on the part of all who use these potential weapons of destruction.
It is not only the long range of words that can be dangerous, but also the long-term effects of verbal damage. Therefore, it is particularly important to always consider the long-lasting effects of any statement before launching potent words from your mouth.
Holding back a feisty, slippery creature such as the human tongue is a difficult task, to say the least. The laws of lashon hara—forbidden, harmful speech—arouse a sense of caution and sensitivity, encouraging people to guard their tongues and to dole out words with careful stinginess. One good way to develop word control is to improve your visual sense. Look for the good in everything around you. If you see beauty in nature, appreciate art and music, and enjoy the talents and quirks of friends and relatives, even though you may not be able to control your tongue, you will speak your mind with a positive view whenever expressing inner thoughts.
The verse in Tehillim (34:13) says: “Who is the man who seeks life, loves days to see good—guard your tongue from evil...” In order to guard your tongue, you must see good. There is so much that is positive in G-d’s Creation and in the people around you. Look for it and you will find it. Focus on it and teach your tongue to speak good.
CONSIDER THIS FOR A MINUTE
The gossiper looks over his shoulder to make sure that his target is not listening. Why isn’t he worried that Hashem is listening? (A Lesson a Day, Rabbi Shimon Finkelman/Rabbi Yitzchak Berkowitz)
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