Halacha for Monday 26 Tammuz 5779 July 29 2019

Vulgar Speech- Maran zt”l’s Caution

Question: I sometimes sit among friends that unfortunately engage in vulgar conversation, however, I myself do not participate in the conversation. What should I do?

Answer: The Gemara (Shabbat 33a) states that as a result of vulgar chatter, many great tragedies and harsh decrees are renewed, the youth of Israel die, and widows and orphans call out and are not answered, as the verse states, “That is why Hashem will not spare their youths, nor show compassion to their orphans and widows; for all are flattering and wicked and every mouth speaks vulgarity.” The Gemara expounds further: “Rabbi Hanan bar Rava said: Everyone knows why a bride enters the Chuppah; however, one who speaks crudely (and elaborates on this point explicitly) will have even sealed good decrees of seventy years switched to evil for him. Rabba bar Shila said in the name of Rav Chasda: Whoever speaks vulgar language shall have Gehinnom deepened for him, as the verse states, ‘The mouth of a forbidden one is a deep pit.’ Rav Nachman bar Yitzchak said: This applies even to one who listens to vulgarity being spoken and is silent, as the verse states (in continuation of the above verse), ‘He who is doomed by Hashem falls into it.”

The great and saintly Shelah (Sha’ar Ha’Otiyot, Ot Shin) writes that the father of all sinful speech is vulgar language and chatter. He adds that one who defiles one’s mouth and tongue causes all of one’s Torah study and prayer to be defiled as well and one shall be punished for these previously holy words as well, for this is similar to one who brings a special gift to a king but presents it to the king in a vessel full of vomit in which case the king will be doubly angry. So too, prayer is a gift to Hashem but when it is presented from a mouth that speaks vulgarity which Hashem despises, this angers Hashem. The great Mekubalim elaborate on this point further.

The great Maharal of Prague (in his Netivot Olam, Netiv Ha’Tzeniut, 4) questions why it is that as the result of such a relatively light sin which only consists of speech such terrible and bizarre punishments befall a person, such as seventy years of good decrees turning bad, the youth of Israel dying and even some seemingly cruel punishments like widows and orphans calling out and not being answered?

The Maharal explains that man’s greatest asset is speech since the ability to speak was only given to mankind. Speech brings man to completion. Thus, when one sins through speech, one is sinning in the most severe manner, i.e. through the highest level man manifests himself, and measure for measure for sinning with man’s highest level, the highest levels of punishment are appropriate as well. Since one can institute good decrees with one’s speech when one speaks in a beneficial manner, the opposite is true as well in that when one speaks in a vulgar manner, one causes bad decrees to befall the Jewish nation. The sin of vulgar speech is worse than that of evil speech (Lashon Hara), for Lashon Hara is a sin that only involves speech while vulgar speech involves the worst character traits and smatterings of promiscuity and immoral thoughts which the Torah refers to a “abominations.” It is for this reason that this sin causes evil decrees to be renewed upon the Jewish nation, the youth of Israel die, and widows and orphans call out but are not answered, for these are the cruel results of decrees which come about as a result of vulgar speech. The youth of the Jewish nation are strong and are meant to live, however, as a result of vulgar speech, the opposite happens and they die. Similarly, widows and orphans, who should be the most natural recipients of mercy, receive the opposite treatment and they are met with cruelty.

Based on the above, if one finds himself in the company of lowly individuals who speak in a vulgar manner about immoral and promiscuous subjects, one must leave their company and find better friends who are G-d-fearing, as our Sages taught, “Woe unto the wicked one, woe unto his neighbor.” Indeed, our Sages taught that even one who hears vulgar speech and remains silent is punished severely, especially regarding an issue as grave as severe as vulgar speech which wreaks havoc and tragedy upon the speakers and all those around them.

Once, in the year 5762 (2002), someone close to Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l felt the need to describe an immoral incident that occurred in one of the Israeli government agencies in order to explain why it was not a good idea for a certain one of Maran zt”l’s granddaughters to begin working there. When Maran zt”l heard the gist of the story from the first few words, he put his fingers in his ears and exclaimed, “Enough! I understand!” Maran zt”l, who was exceedingly holy, was so careful not to defile his ears with such things even when they were said for a necessary purpose.

 

8 Halachot Most Popular

The Laws of the Holiday of Sukkot

As per the request of many of our members and as a public service, we shall now list a synopsis of some laws which are essential for the upcoming Sukkot holiday: The Sukkah must be made of three walls and Sechach (the roof). The walls may be made of any material which can withstand a normal wi......

Read Halacha

Taking Tylenol, Advil, and Sleeping Pills on Shabbat and the Tenth of Tevet

Question: May one take Tylenol or sleeping pills on Shabbat? Also, may Tylenol be administered to an infant who is running a fever on Shabbat? Answer: In the previous Halachot we have explained that an individual who is not truly ill (i.e. lying down in bed) may not take medication on Shabbat. We......

Read Halacha

Setting a Trap on Shabbat

Question: May one set a trap for animals when the trap continues to operate on Shabbat? Answer: In the previous Halacha we have established that one of the thirty-nine works forbidden on Shabbat is trapping. This means that if one traps a living creature on Shabbat, one is liable for Shabbat dese......

Read Halacha

Taking Vitamins and Non-Medication Pills on Shabbat

We have explained in the previous Halachot that our Sages prohibited one who is not truly ill to take medicine on Shabbat. Only if one feels ill throughout his body or must lie down in bed may one take medication to heal one’s self. We have discussed several details regarding this law. Conc......

Read Halacha


Laying a Mouse Trap on Shabbat

Question: May one lay a mouse trap on Shabbat? Answer: In the previous Halachot we have discussed that one of the forbidden works on Shabbat is trapping; one who traps an animal on Shabbat is liable for the Torah prohibition of Shabbat desecration. We have written that if one traps animals which ......

Read Halacha

Bandages on Shabbat

Question: May one stick an adhesive bandage onto a wound on Shabbat? Answer: Regarding using adhesive bandages on Shabbat, there are three issues we must discuss: The first issue is healing on Shabbat, for as we have already explained in previous Halachot, our Sages have forbidden performing a......

Read Halacha

Taking Medicine on Shabbat

The Laws of Taking Medicine on Shabbat Our Sages teach us in Masechet Shabbat that performing any sort of healing, including taking medication to heal any sort of illness, is forbidden on Shabbat. The reason for this prohibition is because the Sages of the Talmud understood that when one was in dis......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Taking Medicine on Shabbat-Continued

In the previous Halacha, we have explained in general that our Sages enacted that one may not take any sort of medication on Shabbat, for they were concerned that as a result of one’s distress when a family member is ill, one may transgress Torah prohibitions in order to heal him, such as by g......

Read Halacha