When non-observant people talk about how difficult it is to observe Torah, they usually mention the difficulty of observing Shabbat or keeping food Laws. Yet the laws that are most difficult to keep, that are most commonly violated even by the most observant, are the laws regarding improper speech…
Observer should all be aware of the power of speech and of the harm that can be done through speech. The universe itself was created through speech. The harm done by speech is even worse than the harm done by stealing or by cheating someone financially: money lost can be repaid, but the harm done by speech sometimes can never be repaired..
Speech has been compared to an arrow: once the words are released, like an arrow, they cannot be recalled, the harm they do cannot be stopped, and the harm they do cannot always be predicted, for words like arrows often go astray.
There are two mitzvot in the Torah that specifically address improper speech: Thou shalt not go up and down as a tale-bearer among thy people (Lev. 19:16), and ye shall not wrong one another (Lev. 25:1).
Tale-bearing is, essentially, any gossip. There are a few exceptional circumstances when tale-bearing is allowed, or even required. Most notably, tale-bearing is required in a court of law, because it is a mitzvah to give testimony and that mitzvah overrides the general prohibition against tale-bearing. Thus, a person is required to reveal information, even if it is something that was explicitly told in confidence, even if it will harm a person, in a court of law for right ruling ..
Lashon hara differs from defamation in that its focus is on the use of true speech for a wrongful purpose, By contrast, hotzaat shem ra (“spreading a bad name”), also called hotzaat diba, or motzi shem ra (lit. “putting out a bad name”) consists of untrue remarks, and is best translated as “slander” or “defamation”.
Leviticus 25:17 says, “You shall not wrong one another.” . It includes any statement that will embarrass, insult or deceive a person, or cause a person emotional pain or distress.
To love all human beings who are of the covenant (Lev. 19:18)
Not to stand by idly when a human life is in danger (Lev. 9:16)
Not to wrong any one in speech (Lev. 25:17)
Not to carry tales (Lev. 19:16)
Not to cherish hatred in one’s heart (Lev. 19;17)
Not to take revenge (Lev. 19:18)
Not to bear a grudge (Lev. 19:18)
Not to put any of Covenant to shame (Lev. 19:17)
Not to curse any other Yisraelite (Lev. 19:14) (by implication: if you may not curse those who cannot hear, you certainly may not curse those who can)
Not to give occasion to the simple-minded to stumble on the road (Lev. 19:14)
To love the stranger (Deut. 10:19)
Not to wrong the stranger in speech (Ex. 22:20)