Do You Like to Gossip?

Why We Chatter and What it Tells Us About Ourselves

Why do people like gossip? Some like to chatter; even more like to hear others chatter. Just listen to daily talk shows, read magazines like People, Us, OK, Star, the National Enquirer — platforms followed by tens of millions of people if not more. Nothing gets someone’s attention like a luscious expose (true or not) or a juicy piece of confidential information (for a number of years there was even a highly popular magazine called Confidential). We have all at some point been chastised and preached to about the vices of gossip; how idle chatter about others feeds into our lowest base instincts and is a royal waste of time if not overtly destructive. But what affect do these protestations have on us? What deeper need is being fed through our appetite for gossip?

Some say that the word gossip is from the Old English godsibb, from god and sibb (the term for the godparents of one’s child or the parents of one’s godchild). It originated from the chatter in the bedroom at the time of childbirth. Giving birth used to be a social (ladies only) event, in which a pregnant woman’s female relatives and neighbors would gather. As with any social gathering there was chattering. This is where the term gossip came to mean talk of others. What a strange root for the word gossip? Gossip today has certainly expanded far outside of the bedroom. But does it roots in childbirth have anything to teach us? And is there any virtue in gossip?

Please join Rabbi Jacobson in this disarming discussion on the surprising lessons about gossip we learn from Balaam’s blessings (which were meant to be curses) in this week’s Parshat Balak. Discover how our attraction to gossip and idle talk can teach us volumes about our lives and personalities. Learn to channel human curiosity and need to talk about others into a powerful revolution for good…

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