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Green Speech Revisited (RWW Email Series)

10 Habits of Green Speech (article)

By Rabbi Mike Stern & Aleeza Ben-Shalom (6-2-2017)

Rabbi Stern Green Speech Campaign (video)

By Rabbi Mike Stern (6-26-2017)

Green Speech (article)

By Vivi, Vivi's Jewish Adventures (6-1-2021)

10 Habits of Green Speech

By Rabbi Mike Stern & Aleeza Ben-Shalom (6-2-2017)

Change your words, change your life.

Social media, which has brought us together in new and amazing ways, has also caused an explosion in the misuse of words, without any social or ethical responsibility.

Judaism has given us a set of beautiful traditions and laws for guarding our speech that promote respect and peaceful co-existence.

Recycling, reducing waste and shopping for local produce are all ways we interact with our environment to conserve the natural resources of our planet. We can harness that same kind of mindfulness to protect our personal well-being, relationships, families and communities.

We associate the color green with the farms and forests that we hope to preserve and nurture by making those environmentally conscious choices. Let’s expand that spirit of preservation and nurturing to the words we use and start using “Green Speech.” After all, who doesn't want to have healthier and more beautiful relationships?

Jewish tradition calls Green Speech Shmirat HaLashon, literally “guarding the tongue.” Let’s focus on the following 10 Habits of Green Speech:

  1. Make only positive statements, and refrain from making derogatory ones – even if they're true.

  2. Promote people's well-being. Don't make any statement that could cause someone physical, financial or emotional harm.

  3. Humor is great, but make sure jokes aren't at someone else's expense.

  4. Avoid speaking badly – even about yourself.

  5. Communicating derogatory or harmful statements by writing, verbal hints, or body language is just as bad as saying them.

  6. It takes two to gossip. Don't listen. Change the topic or walk away if necessary.

  7. Give others the benefit of the doubt.

  8. Refrain from conveying negative stereotypes or information about a group of people or an organization.

  9. Communicate with your spouse and family with kind and supportive words.

  10. Warn a person about potential harm. For example, from an untrustworthy prospective business or marriage partner. Make sure your information is accurate.

We can make these habits our daily practice by committing yourself to take ethical responsibility for the words you use and be more mindful about how negative, harmful and derogatory words and gossip hurt people, including yourself.

Making efforts to adopt the habits of Green Speech will reduce harmful and derogatory words, and put an end to the verbal abuse that damages our mental health and causes us pain.

Our words matter.


Rabbi Stern Green Speech Campaign (video)

By Rabbi Mike Stern (6-26-2017)


Green Speech (article)

By Vivi, Vivi's Jewish Adventures (6-1-2021)

Hello Friends,

Today is the Yahrzeit of a man I have never met; yet he touched and inspired me. I believe you will feel the same. His name is Rabbi Michael Stern or Rabbi Mike. He was known as the Rabbi Without Walls and sought to be a friend, a safe harbor, everyman’s Rabbi. He was successful at this endeavor. As said by one of his contemporaries, he made friends with each person who crossed his path. Another called him “a heart on legs”.

Possibly his most cherished mission was the campaign he called “Green Speech”.

Rabbi Mike’s Green Speech Campaign used the concept of caring for our planet to address taking care of our speech. He brought to life Shmirat HaLashon, guarding our tongue. Just as we strive to plant greenery, reduce waste and create a healthier earth, Rabbi Mike campaigned that we apply these principles to how we speak. To treat each other with simple love, respect and encouragement.

Last week I talked about love of our fellow and Lashon Hara, not speaking badly of others. Rabbi Mike inspired that post.

It strikes me that good will, the willingness and effort to love our fellows is the PIVOT, the primary axis upon which IT all rests. “IT” being that elusive goal of peace for which we pine.

Rabbi Mike’s “Green Speech” project brilliantly and yet so simply connects Lashon Hara with Love Your Neighbor. As elusive as is peace, so too is love. Just how do we love our neighbor? We can make a phenomenal start by guarding how we talk about our boss, our sibling, our spouse, even our enemy.

As Rabbi Mike said, “Why not reduce the toxins and pollutants from our speech…?”

In memory of our lost loved ones, in honor of our loved ones still here, and in merit of those loved ones yet to come, let’s pick this campaign back up!


IT’S not easy, as you know. I am tempted every day to break this lovely way. I need help.…

Will you join me please?

Love, Vivi. ©


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