Lashon hara is pointing out to your coworkers how the boss screwed up his presentation.
Lashon hara is telling your spouse how the worship leader was pretty good but a couple songs could have been better.
Lashon hara is any sentence that begins with “She’s a great person, but”.
Why do we do this terrible thing. Well we can justify it. We can say it is the truth and it probably is but that does not justify it. As Paul says Php 2:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
There is a story of a habitual gossip who went to the local Rabbi and confessed his sins and asked how he could make amends. The Rabbi said for him to go home and bring back a pillow. So he did. Then the Rabbi said now lets go outside and you are going to slice the pillow open with this knife.
So they went outside and he sliced the pillow and all the feathers blew away.
And the Rabbi said, “now go pick up each feather and bring it back”. And the man said, “But that is impossible”!! And the Rabbi said “in the same way it is impossible to repair all the damage your gossip has done.
When Jesus compared lust to adultery and anger to murder he was doing what this Rabbi did.
And all Rabbi’s did the same thing with sins of the tongue. In fact they said three persons were murdered with lashon hara: the one who gossips, the one who listens and the victim. How is the listener affected. His relationship is affected by listening to the gossip about the victim. Also the listener is often tempted to pass this gossip on.
Remember King David saying there was no worse pain that that of being stabbed in the back in the Sanctuary. Lashon hara was used often against him.
*Mostly from “Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus” by Lois Tverberg.