SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM
We have learned that speaking negatively for the sake of one’s own emotional well-being is an acceptable form of constructive speech. It is reasonable for one to express anger and frustration about an individual to one’s parent, spouse or mentor to obtain sympathy, reassurance and advice, and it is the obligation of the listener to provide such support.
However, even in such situations, the listener may not decide in his own mind that the report is true, for as far as he is concerned, the information is only secondhand. It is therefore imperative that the following understanding exist between those who take part in such discussions:
Halacha permits one to occasionally “let off steam” and express his frustrations to someone else. However, it is obvious that one who is involved in a disagreement to the point of anger, or considers himself the victim of verbal abuse, lacks the ability to be objective. Any negativity expressed under such circumstances is to be understood as a description of the speaker’s feelings and not as an accurate account of what actually took place.
In this way, a husband and wife or close friends can rely on one another for emotional support without transgressing the laws of proper speech.
SEFER SHMIRAS HALOSHON
A Heartfelt Plea
Tanna D’Vei Eliyahu (I, ch. 19) states
Master of the Universe! Take note of our suffering … and allow the disgrace which we endure at every hour to rise up before You. Remember the many heads of families among Israel who have no livelihood, yet toil in Torah each day, continually. Remember the many poor among Israel, who have their flesh torn from their bodies by the nations of the world [through taxes and other monetary demands], yet toil in Torah each day, continually. Remember the youth among Israel who know not their right from their left [i.e. who are pure and unsullied by sin — Yeshuos Yaakov], and toil in Torah each day, continually. Remember the many aged men and women among Israel, who arise early to enter the houses of prayer and Torah study, and who yearn, crave and hope each day for Your salvation.
My Father in Heaven! Remember the covenant which You established with the three righteous Patriarchs, Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov. And you have written in Your Torah, “And if your brother will become impoverished … you shall strengthen him” (Vayikra 25:35) [so, too, strengthen us so that we will not falter].
My Father in Heaven! Remember the many crippled and blind among Israel who do not have sufficient food, yet hire teachers to study Torah with their children.
My Father in Heaven! Remember Israel, Your possession in this world, as it is written, “Is He not your Father, your Possessor?’’ (Devarim 32:6); and “Hashem acquired me at the beginning of His way” (Mishlei 8:22).
My Father in Heaven! Remember the many widows and orphans among Israel, who toil in Torah and mitzvos each day, continually.
The above should inspire each of us to arouse compassion before Hashem on behalf of the Jewish people, for in our day, the sources of merit cited in Tanna D’Vei Eliyahu are still to be found. The material status of the Jewish people in our time is far from good; yet wherever one turns, he finds Jews who study Torah, observe mitzvos, support Torah study, do kindness with others and give charity to the poor.