Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Charedi World

5 Iyar 5760 - May 10, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








Sponsored by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Produced and housed by

The Notzrel Loshon Rally: A Revolution in Speech Patterns

by Betzalel Kahn

Rabbi C. is a ram in a prominent yeshiva in Jerusalem. Today, he teaches Torah to his many yeshiva students. But he is also the man who designed the posters which have been distributed during this past year throughout all chareidi centers in the country with slogans like: "It's Up to Us to Stop the Fire."

Rabbi C. was once a professional copywriter. Like so many others, he decided to become involved in the amazing Notzrei Loshon campaign, which has been particularly active in the past few months.

"Tens of thousands of people have begun to study the laws of shemiras haloshon as a result of the huge colored posters lining the billboards of chareidi communities," Notzrei Loshon volunteers note. The posters are eye-catching and attractive, and people have simply been persuaded not to remain indifferent to current events, convinced that their manner of speech had to be changed. No more loshon hora, but rather the extinguishing of the fire. One who probes the halochos of loshon hora surely knows to which fire we are referring.

Rabbi C. decided to contribute his professional skills to the effort and devised the many slogans and posters which have transformed the campaign into an "aggressive" one: professionally speaking, of course.

This is the most vigorous advertising campaign to take place in Israel since the recent elections, when billboards all over the country were inundated with scores of placards.

In the wake of the Torah community's awareness of the vital need to study the laws of shemiras haloshon, the Notzrei Loshon organization has been making all-out efforts to encourage avreichim, bnei yeshiva, baalei batim and others to study the laws of loshon hora. The campaign, directed at men between the ages of 13 and 120, was publicized a number of weeks ago in newspapers and on public billboards. It has aroused the unprecedented interest and support of maranan verabonon, the gedolei Torah.

As a result of the campaign, many men have resolved to study the laws of shemiras haloshon ten minutes a day, following a systematic program. 3800 people registered in the program throughout the country, embarking upon a daily study of the laws from the sefer Chofetz Chaim, beginning with hilchos loshon hora, klal alef.

The program is simple: Everyone who was tested had to study the laws from klal alef until the end of klal yud for ten minutes a day for fifty days, with the possibility of studying twenty minutes a day for those who registered late.

Valuable prizes were promised those who participated in the study program and the tests, as well as an opportunity to participate in a lottery. The first prize was 1000 dollars; second prize, 800, and third prize, 500 dollars. One hundred other winners each received 100 dollars. The prizes are, of course, secondary to the genuine premium: amassing knowledge in the important laws of loshon hora, the study of which is referred to as "one of the pillars that maintains the entire world."

The Test

An hour before the rally, a test was held for the thousands of participants who had studied the laws of loshon hora ten minutes a day for fifty days. It was inspiring to see that the great interest that had been displayed at the start of the campaign did not wane during the days preceding the rally and test. Hundreds of people called to ask if they might participate in the test although they had not managed to study a halocho a day for ten minutes. Notzrei Loshon urged these people to try to complete the halochos and make up for the time they had missed. Many people who had registered for the campaign did not want to be tested on the material although they were familiar with it, because they had not participated in the campaign from the start.

It was an impressive event in which Jews from all circles of the chareidi community united around a topic of utmost importance: the study of the laws of shemiras haloshon and the laws of bein odom lechavero. Buses from Haifa, Tifrach, Yeruchom, Bnei Brak, Netanya and Netivot brought thousands of bnei Torah from all over the country to the event. More than 5000 people filled the Tamir halls. A sound system transmitted the event outside the main auditorium, as did giant screens stationed inside and outside nearby halls.

The dais was graced by gedolei haTorah vehaChassidus, roshei yeshiva, ramim, roshei kollel, rabbonim and admorim. There were thousands of avreichim and bnei yeshiva. The fact that the event was held during bein hazmanim greatly contributed to its success. In this way, regular yeshiva study sessions were not disrupted and large groups of yeshiva students were able to attend.

Letter of HaRav Lefkowitz

HaRav Betzalel Trovitz, the chairman of the Notzrei Loshon organization, and a mashgiach in Toras Yechiel, read the letter HaRav Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz sent to the rally. It read:

"To the esteemed founders and heads of the Notzrei Loshon organization, may they merit long life, and to all of the participants in the important rally for the strengthening and the inculcation of the awareness of the need to study and review the holy work, Chofetz Chaim: Blessed are you from the Source of blessings for having assembled in order to strengthen yourselves on the issue of guarding your speech by the study of the seforim, Chofetz Chaim and Shemiras Haloshon. Many of the basic principles of the Torah and of the mitzvos bein odom lechavero are dependent on our speech, and whoever is careful in this vital area acquires genuine life.

"The author of Afikei Yam was one of the outstanding students of the Chofetz Chaim. Toward the end of the second half of his sefer, he presents very valuable insights under the title "Peninei Yam." In section reish, he writes that the Chofetz Chaim knew that even though it is difficult to refrain from speaking loshon hora and rechilus, it should suffice to reflect that, as alluded to by the verse, "nefesh omeil, omlo lo," one might lose all of his exertion and toil in Torah and mitzvos by speaking loshon hora, and his share will instead be given to one who never toiled in Torah.

"He also says that the aphorism, `Life and death are in the power of the tongue,' is to be interpreted in its literal sense, for when one studies the Torah hakedosha every single word of his is considered a mitzvah, while when one is neglectful of his speech he is judged for every improper word he says something. The result is that if he is not careful about his speech he is likely to have more sins than merits. In fifteen minutes of speaking loshon hora one utters approximately 3000 words. The Chofetz Chaim writes that he checked his own speech and in one minute he uttered 200 words, so that one who is involved in Torah study surely has mainly zechuyos.

"By means of one expression of loshon hora one may violate a few hundred thousand negative commandments. For example, if one maligns his fellow in a newspaper read by read by hundreds of thousands of people, he has violated the command of "lifnei iveir" for each person who accepts his slander. The best way to avoid loshon hora is by fulfilling the mitzva to give one's fellow the benefit of the doubt.

"The root of most of disputes stems from the fact that each side is absolutely certain he is right. However, even when there are differences of opinion one should behave according to the Torah, respecting and being mindful of the other's honor. In that manner one will be able to cultivate the quality of ahavas habriyos and to fulfill the positive command of `love your neighbor as yourself.' In addition to this, the Torah study of one whose mouth is clean and pure and devoid of forbidden speech, is entirely and purely Torah, just like what was given on Sinai."

HaRav Yosef Sholom Eliashiv, HaRav Shmuel Wosner and HaRav Yechiel Michel Feinstein also sent letters.

All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.