The Essential Quality
It is every person’s hope and prayer that he or she be healthy, that every
organ of the body function as it should. Similarly, it should be every
person’s hope and yearning that his or her soul, which lives on eternally,
be spiritually healthy. It is therefore imperative that one strive
throughout his lifetime to faithfully observe all 613 mitzvos, which
provide the components of the soul with eternal life and vitality.
Shmiras haloshon is especially crucial to one’s spiritual wellbeing. People
who habitually speak loshon hora, and accept as fact the evil talk of
others, corrupt their power of speech and hearing in this world – and their
souls will surely be affected in a parallel way in the next world. How
great will be their shame in the next world! For it will be obvious to all
that their deficiencies resulted from the sin of loshon hora and their
having been the cause of strife on this world.
The Torah states: “And Hashem (God) formed man from the dust of the ground,
and He blew into his nostrils the soul of life, and man became a living
being” (Bereishis 2:7). Targum Onkelos translates the verse’s last phrase
as, “and man became a speaking spirit.” It is the power of speech which
defines man’s essence and distinguishes him from other creatures.
Thus does Scripture state: “One who guards his mouth and tongue, guards his
soul from tribulations” (Mishlei 21:23). Shmiras haloshon is singled out
because speech is man’s essential quality. Impairment of this power
deprives the soul of its essential quality in the next world and is the
source of its ultimate tribulation.
David therefore declares, “Which man desires life, who loves days of seeing
good? Guard your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit…”