Emor means “speak.” Speech is a powerful force that can be used to hurt or heal others. One of the most serious sins in the Torah is malicious gossip, known as lashon hara (evil tongue). Our Sages teach, “Three does lashon hara kill: the one who says it, the one who accepts it, and the one who is spoken about. And the accepter more so than the speaker.” Talmud Arachin 15b
Why is listening to lashon hara worse than speaking it? Without a listener, gossip can’t exist. If someone starts speaking gossip, but the person they’re talking to makes their disinterest clear, the speaker won’t continue. The admonition against listening to lashon hara is stronger than the admonition against speaking it because listening is a more common sin, and easier to justify.
God gave us the laws of kashrut (kosher) to make sure that what goes into our mouth is pure. We must be just as careful about the words that come out of it!
“Guard your tongue from evil, your lips from deceitful speech.” – Psalm 34:14