Ben Adam L'chavera - Loshon Hara And Jumping To Conclusions
Group Size: 5-30
Estimated Time: 90 minutes
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Background: Lashon Hara is the relating of TRUE stories which will damage the character of the person or people spoken about. (Any story containing untruths is obviously even worse and is called Motzi Shem Ra – literally “bringing out a bad name”). Lashon Hara contravenes the commandment “You shall not be a talebearer among your people”.
The Chafetz Chaim is of the opinion that here are 31 mitzvot in the Torah which are concerned with Lashon Hara. Shmot 23:1 says “Thou shalt not raise a false report: put not thy hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness.” It is forbidden both to speak and hear Lashon Hara. There is also a story in the Torah that deals with Lashon Hara: Miriam and her Tzara’at.
To do teshuva for Lashon Hara, you must first see what the effects of the Lashon Hara are. It varies depending on whether the listeners believed you, whether the esteem of the person was lessened, etc. If no one was hurt, it is a sin bein adam l’makom, and you do regular teshuva for it. (Ask the kids what they remember from our snif on Teshuva at the beginning of the year.)
If damage was caused, you must beg forgiveness from the injured person before doing regular teshuva. You must tell them what you said.
A cute story about the Chafetz Chaim: In his old age, the Chafetz Chaim had difficulty hearing. Rabbi Meir Shapiro, head of the Lublin Yeshiva, once asked him, “Why don’t you see a doctor? Perhaps something can be done to help you?”
The Chafetz Chaim replied, “with G-d’s help I have been able to refrain from speaking Lashon Hara. But hearing Lashon Hara depends on others. If someone has something important to tell me, he raises his voice and I hear him. But no one will shout Lashon Hara into my ears.”
Have all the chanichim stand on one side of the room. Read them the following scenarios, and depending on how bad they are, tell them to move across the room (the farther away from the wall – the worse it is. They move backwards and forwards depending on each scenario.) You may want to act out each scenario for the chanichim.
1. Mr. Gordon informed a friend, “Mr. Stern is kind to his relatives.” Mr. Gordon says this in a manner which implies that Mr. Stern is unkind to people who are not related to him.
2. Rivka had just praised Brenda for the past 10 minutes. Miriam, who had been listening quietly to all the praises lavished on Brenda, raised an objection: “Nobody is perfect. She must have some faults.” Chaya, who also listened to Rivka, said, “You’re right. She has a tendency to look down on people who don’t meet her standards.”
3. Mr. Cohen’s employer insulted him. When Mr. Cohen comes home, he told his wife.
4. “Mrs. Diamond is a poor housewife and her house is always a mess, and I’d even say that if she were standing right here.”
5. “I won’t mention any names, but it rhymes with ‘bold.’”
These five can be matched to the following statements by the Chafetz Chaim:
A. It is not necessary to explicitly mention someone’s name for a statement to be considered Lashon Hara. If the listener is able to deduce the identity of the person referred to, it is Lashon Hara. (5)
B. It is forbidden to relate Lashon Hara even to your closest relatives; parents, brothers, sisters, etc. (3)
C. It is forbidden to praise someone excessively, even if the listeners do not dislike him. You are likely to add something derogatory at the end of your praise. Excessive praise can encourage the listeners to try and refute you by mentioning the faults of the subject. (2)
D. It is forbidden to relate Lashon Hara even if you feel you would say it in the presence of the person. Even if you have criticized the person to his fact you are still forbidden to repeat this information to others. (4)
E. You are forbidden to praise someone when the praise implies a deficiency in another aspect of a person’s character. (1)
Ask the chanichim once again to rate each offense.
Game 2: Pizza Shop
Send three people out. Then do a sketch (e.g. painting the house) to the first person. Let him/her copy it to the next etc. Ask the last person what the sketch was. (Things get corrupted and misinterpreted if they are repeated.)
Other ideas: Changing a diaper, catching an animal, helping an old lady cross a street, picking fruits from a tree, making a scrambled egg…
A similar game idea is Broken Telephone
Song: If you feel like it will work with your kevutza, you can teach them the song “Mi HaIsh”: áåè úåàøì íéîé áäà íééç õôçä ùéàä éî
äîøî øáãî êéúôùå òøî êðåùì øåöð
åäôãøå íåìù ù÷á áåè äùòå òøî øåñ
Game 3: Who is Dani?
The madrich reads each sentence to the group. The chanichim must then tell what they think Dani is doing. Encourage the kids to make judgements about Dani, what they think he is and if he’s bad or good. The point of this activity is to illustrate to the kids that what they seei sn’t always what’s going on.
1. You see Dani climbing on the roof of a house in your neighborhood, and with tools, opens the second story window and enters the house.
2. You see Dani yelling at an old woman in the street.
3. you see Dani going into the supermarket and coming out with a case full of bottles, without paying.
4. You see Dani running after an animal in the street, later that same day you see Dani burying a cat.
5. You see Dani running in the street and pushing people.
The Real Story:
Dani’s parents just moved in to a new house. They brought all their furniture and belongings to the new house, but since they didn’t have the key yet they left the furniture outside and Dani to watch over it. Suddenly, the phone rings, Dani runs all around looking for a way into the house but when he couldn’t find one, he climbed up on the roof of the house and with his father’s work tools, opened the window and went inside to answer the phone.
That same day, Dani’s family organized a house warming party. Dani’s father asked him to pick up a case of bottles, which had already been paid for, from the supermarket. On the way to the store, Dani met him grandmother and stopped for a few minutes to talk with her. But since she’s more than a little deaf, Dani had to shout in her ear for her to hear him.
After the partyDani went outside to play in his new neighborhood and to look for stray animals. Dani loves to take care of animals. Dani found a cat and took it home. But as soon as Dani got home, the cat suddenly died and Dani, sadly, had to bury the cat. On his way home again, Dani got caught in a crowd of people in the street. Dani heard someone shout that a man was having a heart attack. Dani rushed to help and give CPR but he couldn’t get through the crowd of people so he started shoving and pushing. What a day Dani had!!
Discussion: A related idea is Dan L’kaf Zechut, judging people favorably. We must always try and look for ways to assume people are doing things properly and according to halacha, even if the result is rather far fetched. There is a whole book written on this, “Both Sides of the Story” filled with stories along this line.
Game 3: Optical Illusions: what do you see? It is easy to misinterpret things
Right side up it's a giant bird:
Upside down it's a guy catching a big fish: