Is Trash Talking Kosher?

When young kids are verbally harassed by other children they are taught to respond to their provokers by saying that, “sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me,” conveying the message that words are not physically damaging and therefore aren’t bothersome. While this phrase has become somewhat effective as a tool to prevent bullying, it actually runs counter to the Jewish idea of speech.

Judaism believes that our ability to speak is a very precious gift that God has bestowed on us and must only be used for constructive purposes. Any attempt to use our speech for destructive purposes is, essentially, a rejection of our God given gift. In fact, tradition emphasizes the unique power of speech by relating that God created the world with 10 utterances. In other words, Jewish tradition maintains that words are so holy that they have the ability to create new realities.


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