שמירת הלשון - Sh'mirat Halashon

Tiberias has been a popular destination for tourists for more than 2,000 years. As early as Roman times, this thriving recreation spa, built around 17 natural mineral hot springs more than 600 feet below sea level, welcomed visitors from every part of the ancient world. Built by Herod Antipas (one of Herod the Great's three sons who divided up Palestine after their father's death), the city was named Tiberias in honor of the Roman Emperor Tiberius.

Tiberias plays an important role in Jewish history. It was part of the land bequeathed to Naphtali (Joshua 19:35). The Sanhedrin (the High Court of Israel during the period of the Second Temple) relocated to Tiberias from Sepphoris. In the Mishnaic and Talmudic period, Tiberias was an important spiritual center. The Mishna was completed in Tiberias in 200 C.E. under the supervision of Rabbi Yehuda Ha-Nasi ("Judah the Prince"). The Jerusalem Talmud was compiled in 400 C.E.

After his death in 1204, the great Jewish sage Maimonides was buried in Tiberias. His tomb is on Ben Zakkai Street, a short distance from the town center. The street's namesake, Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai, is also believed to be buried nearby. Yet another shrine is the Tomb of Rabbi Akiva.

As the author of the Mishneh Torah and many other works Maimonides is one of the most important Jewish legal minds in Jewish history.

Amongst his teachings is a vital lesson about guarding our tongue from lashon hara, evil speech.  He teaches us, "The Sages said: '[For] three sins a person is punished in this world, and he has no share in the World to Come: idolatry, adultery, and murder. And the spreading of evil gossip (lashon hara) is equivalent to all three.' The Sages said further: 'Anyone who speaks lashon hara, it is as if he has denied God. And the Sages said further, 'Three does lashon hara kill: the one who says it, the one who accepts it, and the one who is spoken about. And the accepter more so than the speaker."

 

So now it’s your turn.  
This month, when you hear someone speaking lashon hara - do something about it.