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Keeping a diary - lashon hara


Rabbi David Sperling

Cheshvan 23, 5781
Hi. Am I allowed to keep a diary, which I have kept since I was very young, which includes writings of things or words people have done or spoken against me/ hurt me? I have written in there derogatory things people have done to me.
Shalom, Thank you for your question. Firstly, let me send you a blessings that you should merit to have a diary that has no cause to be filled with any bad things people do or say against you – you should be blessed to find favor in the eyes of all, and be loved by all who meet you. In answer to your question. If your diary is kept private, and no one sees it, then you do not have any issue with the laws of Lash HaRah (gossip). However, the things you record that include derogatory and painful things people have done towards you may be an infringement on the obligation to judge people favorably (of course this would apply even if those thought were not written down – but writing them down gives the thoughts extra weight, and adds to the sin of judging people badly). Also, it may strengthen a tendency to hold a grudge or take revenge. Additionally, it may weaken your ability to fulfill the command to love every Jew. On the other hand, writing down painful experiences can be a way of working through issues one has, and may help one to let go of any bad thoughts and feelings. Often, by expressing the pain we feel we are able to view it as not as hurtful as we thought; or we may be able to close the chapter of the pain. So, with this in mind, you should personally judge what the diary does for you, and why you are writing it. If it is your personal vendetta list (even only in your imagination), or your list of people to hate forever – then it is probably forbidden. If on the other hand it is your emotional outlet, that allows you to grow and forgive; live and move on; put in perspective and control your anger – then it is a great idea. Again – many blessings.
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