SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM
Matters of Taste
It would seem that there is nothing derogatory about a statement of taste. To say, “I don’t like dry wine,” is a description of the speaker’s preferences and not a critical evaluation of the wine.
Ostensibly, then, one should be allowed to say that one does not like the oratory style of a given lecturer. In fact, however, such statements are generally prohibited, for they imply that the speaker lacks effectiveness.
SEFER SHMIRAS HALOSHON
Breaking Bad Habits
In truth, there is no basis for the contention that the average person cannot avoid forbidden speech for more than a day or two. It is a proven fact that the longer one persists in guarding his tongue, the easier it becomes.
To gossip is a habit, and habits, as time goes on, become a part of a person’s nature. But bad habits can be broken, especially when one becomes aware that a given habit involves numerous Torah prohibitions and is described by our Sages in most severe terms. Such an awareness, coupled with a bit of zealousness, goes a long way. One who would speak whatever came to mind without a moment’s hesitation, will now find himself weighing his words before expressing them.
One should not grow frustrated if, after he resolved to avoid forbidden speech, his evil inclination got the better of him and he spoke loshon hora. Even if this happens time and again, nevertheless, he should not despair. Rather, he should forever strengthen himself to avoid improper speech, and persevere. This is how one should conduct himself his entire life.
This is the intent of the Talmud’s statement, “One should forever arouse his good inclination to subdue his evil inclination” (Berachos 5a). Life is an ongoing struggle with one’s evil inclination. One must forever be poised for battle and never be discouraged by failure. With knowledge of what the Torah requires of us and proper resolve, our efforts will ultimately succeed.