(In June 2012 we launched GuardYourSpeak which, as its name implies, was dedicated to focusing on all aspects of Shmiras HaLoshon. In short order it became burdensome to maintain both sites, so in recognition of the fact that the material posted on GuardYourSpeak was a natural fit for EmunahSpeak, it was decided to discontinue GuardYourSpeak and repost all of those pieces on EmunahSpeak over the course of the next few months.)
You know how it is.
We see someone do or say something that we don’t approve of, and right away he’s guilty of whatever it is we’re charging him with in our minds. We didn’t (at least this time) make a derogatory comment about it to anyone, nor were we mekabel this negative inference from yenem.
Neither saying nor hearing anything leaves us squeaky clean on our ride
under the radar as far as the laws of loshon hora are concerned.
Our thoughts, however, are a different story because as we explained in EmunahSpeak: Nothing but Thoughts:
You are what you think.
We were speaking there in relation to character traits and we went on to point out that If his (a person’s) thoughts were saturated with humility it would be physically IMPOSSIBLE for him to conduct himself in an arrogant manner. And so it is for every other midda, be it positive or negative.
And the same can be said even for certain mitzvos.
In the introduction to Sefer Chofetz Chaim the Chofetz Chaim lists 17 Laveen (negative mitzvos) and 14 Aseen (positive mitzvos) that one might potentially violate by either speaking or believing loshon hora. While most of these mitzvos are not about loshon hora per se in their essence, the Chofetz Chaim tells us that when ones crosses the line on loshon hora he may also be violating one or more of these Aseen or Laveen.
But most of them are also violated without even uttering a word of loshon hora.
If someone is speaking loshon hora is he not, as was also said there, simply reading his lines; the lines that he has written for himself; the ones etched into his thoughts?
If you said it, you first thought it.
And if you thought it, then even if you’re a tzaddik who kept his mouth shut in the aftermath of the judge and jury role playing that was outlined above, and you didn’t tell your wife, your co-worker or your best buddy what you saw or heard, you have to know that you’re a tzaddik who might already be in big trouble because you may have trashed the Aseh of judge your fellow Jew charitably.
And that’s before you even opened your mouth.
So it all comes down to this:
If you really want to control your tongue you have to first learn to control your mind because if you’re not already thinking about something that shouldn’t be there then it’s impossible that you should be speaking about it.