A Different Kind of Fast Day

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In Jerusalem, there are many billboards with advertisements for upcoming cultural events and classes. A few months ago, there was a sign that caught my eye. It was for a fast day. This was not an ordinary fast day where we refrain from eating and drinking. Rather, it was a “Lashon HaRa Fast Day”, literally a day of avoiding the “Evil Tongue”, a day where we are conscious not to gossip.


I asked my students if they were up for it and they all agreed. From when we woke up in the morning, we were all extremely careful not to say anything about anybody else. One of the laws of “Avak Lashon HaRa”, literally traces of evil tongue, teaches us that we shouldn’t even say something good about another person since someone else may disagree which would end up turning the positive statement into a negative one.


My students studied the laws of Lashon HaRa in depth including the pasuk from Parshat Kedoshim, Vayikra 19:17 “Do not be a tale-bearer among your people” and they didn’t speak very much. In the evening we had a “break the fast”. They asked if this meant that they could now say everything that they were holding back all day but instead I brought them each a lollypop, a gift for their tongues for trying so hard all day.


After this exercise we saw that it is possible to refrain from speaking Lashon HaRa altogether especially if one is with other people who are conscious of being careful with their speech as well.


The Gemara in Arachin 15b states: What will be a person’s remedy so that they may not come to say Lashon HaRa? If they are scholar, let them engage in Torah…


Are you up for the challenge?