Prior to Rosh Hashana and in the days leading up to Yom Kippur, many of us start to think about who we spoke lashon hara about over the year and then hopefully ask those people for mechila (forgiveness). We generally ask for their mechila for anything we may have said or done to them, but I would bet that at least 90% of the time, what we are really asking mechila for is lashon hara we may have spoken about them. The reason we ask each other for forgiveness is because although on Yom Kippur, Hashem forgives anyone who does sincere teshuva for their sins between he/she and Hashem, Yom Kippur doesn’t have any effect on sins between man. We therefore ask each other for mechila so that we can hopefully emerge from Yom Kippur sin free.
This should not be taken lightly. We have all been taught how bad lashon hara is. It is said that a person could commit the biggest sins and even worship idols, but if he doesn’t speak lashon hara, Hashem will not punish him for anything. It is only when a person speaks lashon hara that the prosecuting angel is able, in a sense, to tell lashon hara about him and make out his case against him. That is just one example of how damaging lashon hara is and reason enough to get mechila from anyone you may have spoken lashon hara about.
The problem is, can you honestly say you remember each and every person who you spoke or heard lashon hara about 2 months ago, let alone 7 or 11 months ago? If you don’t remember each and every person who you spoke or heard lashon hara about over the past year, you are not going to ask them for forgiveness, and G-d forbid, you will never be forgiven. This is a huge problem and one we cannot afford to overlook.
Therefore, over Rosh Hashana, I came up with an idea which I am hoping will solve this problem. I am calling it “The List” and it works like this:
Every night, before you go to sleep, think whether you spoke or listened to any lashon hara that day. If so, write down the name or names of the person or people you spoke or heard lashon hara about. That is it. You are essentially just keeping a list that is for your eyes only. You can either keep a notebook with the list by your bed or perhaps type it on a notepad on your phone, which you can either add the names to before you go to sleep or even right after you speak or hear the lashon hara. The important thing is to keep the list and to add names to the list throughout the year whenever lashon hara is spoken.
There are so many benefits to keeping this list. I will just name a few.
1) Mechila List – You will know exactly who you need to ask mechila from. As discussed above, without the list, it is almost impossible to remember each and every person you need to ask mechila from. For that reason alone, it is worth keeping this list.
2) Reality Check – You will realize just how much lashon hara you actually speak. You may be surprised by what you find.
3) A Deterrent – Most importantly, it will act as a deterrent from speaking and hearing lashon hara. That is because you are not going to want to add names to the list. It will therefore make you think twice before speaking or listening to lashon hara. After just a few days of keeping this list, you will become much more aware of lashon hara and will look to avoid it.
Keeping the list is not difficult and yet so beneficial. If you take this on and all it does is deter you from speaking lashon hara just one time, it will have all been worth it. But I guarantee, it will do so much more.
With the new year, I am starting this new project. I am really hoping you will join me. Since I believe that more people will join if they know that others are doing it as well, if you like the idea of keeping “The List” and plan on doing so, please reply to this email or comment below that you are in.
Also, if you know of others who might be interested in doing this, please forward it to them.
Hatzlocha Rabba! May our speech be pure and may we not have to write down any names on the list and let us all have a g’mar chasima tovah!