Friday, January 12, 2018

Mouth of Soap

The purpose of this blog is for some good, clean talk at the Shabbat table. Please print and share (+ like it, tweet it, forward).
RAGAD-stage-setGrowing up, I spent a lot of time at my grandparents' house.

My grandmother (we called her Gigi) loved to cook and bake, and many of our memorable conversations took place in her kitchen.

One of those conversations took place when I was five (the reason I remember what age I was will become apparent).

We were standing in that kitchen. Linoleum gleamed in every direction, fixed in my memory like a minimalist staging of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (see photo above).

Now, Gigi kept this small crystal dish in the living room full of Hershey's Kisses.

The holy grail for of every child who entered that house was to sneak into the living room and extract a Kiss without being detected.

The problem was that if you were not exceedlingly careful, one slip of your hand and crystal touching crystal would reverberate, giving you away.

But even so, there was always the chance that she didn't hear it.

So that particular day I had, as usual, sought and obtained my prize.

But back in the kitchen the worst of my fears was realized:

"Did you take a candy from the living room?"

"No," I lied.

"I hope you're telling me the truth! You must never tell a lie! When your father was five, he once told a lie. We called it 'fibbing'. And you know what I did? I washed his mouth out with soap! And he never lied after that."

On the spot, I resolved never to fib again, at least not to Gigi.

But she continued: "It's not just lies that are bad, any bad language is bad. You should always say nice things! And truthful things. Don't use bad words or tell lies like you might hear other children do."

I frankly didn't know what she meant by bad words at the time, but the lesson stuck.

Later I learned that her lesson has a source in Torah. The rabbis call it lashon naki - clean language.

The idea is to go out of your way to use terms like "washroom" etc. instead of their more explicit synonyms.

Even if it requires more syllables.

Don't say "dirty", say "unclean".

2 questions for your table:

1. What are some common words that people use that could be said with a lashon naki?
2. What about swearing (cursing) - have swear words become so common that they could be considered lashon naki?

Shabbat Shalom

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