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Judaism believes in the opposite of “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” It is through words that worlds are created and that covenants are sealed, and it is also through words that we can hurt and diminish one another and that communities and nations can be torn apart. That is why Jewish tradition goes to great lengths to protect against malicious speech, gossip and damaging another person’s reputation. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks zt’l wrote, “We create worlds with words…When we speak disparagingly of others, we diminish them, we diminish ourselves, and we damage the very ecology of freedom. That is why the Sages take lashon hara so seriously, why they regard it as the gravest of sins.”
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