Friday, June 24, 2016

Mussar Drosha: Anger Management:

Mussar Drosha: Anger Management:

Anger is usually a very terrible thing.  Unless you are getting angry at things such as injustice, or bad things.  That is a time when anger is not so bad - though it sort of depends on the motivation behind it.  But, aside from certain cases, anger is a terrible thing.  As Gemara Nedarim says 'Kol hakoeis, kol minei Gehinom sholtin bo' (which means, 'Anyone who gets angry, all types of Gehinom rule over him').  And as Chazal (the Sages) say also 'Kol hakoeis, ki'ilu ovdei avodah zarah' (which means 'All who get angry, it is as if he is serving idols').  Anger is a very serious thing indeed! 

Let us first examine the saying from Gemara Nedarim:  How do 'all types of Gehinom' rule over somebody who gets mad?  Maybe one of the answers is that, when a person gets angry, they completely lose control of themselves.  They seem to forget all bounds of right and wrong, and Gehinom is literally ruling over them.  This is a very frightening thought!  We lose control of ourselves?  During that period of anger, we could then, Chas V'Shalom (Hashem forbid) go and do a terrible, terrible thing, and hardly even care!  Think about this!  Additionally, the Zohar (Kabbalah written by the Tanna Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai) gives a different answer to the question above:  The Zohar states that when one gets angry - burning mad - we are literally lighting a fire inside of ourselves!  That is, an aish raa (bad fire).  The Zohar explains that one is certainly not allowed to become angry at all on Shabbos or Yontiff, because then they are lighting a fire!  Also, the Zohar says another thing.  Listen to this:  When one gets angry, says the Zohar, they literally light the fires of Gehinom up.  And this is very bad.  Drawing on this, Rebbe Tzaddok HaKohen of Lublin zt"l explains a remarkable Chiddush (new idea):  He says that the fires of being angry are literally the fires of Gehinom!  They are just so destructive by themselves, but the after-effects of anger can be even worse!  Now, if someone gets angry for the right reason, such as getting mad about injustice or about somebody doing something bad, then it is not a bad thing. As we know, we have lots of traits, and all of them can be (and should be!) used for good. We must remember these things; we must try not to get angry for the wrong reason, otherwise it is a very bad thing. Let us realize this:  One can basically experience Gehinom on earth if they get angry for the wrong reason.  We must try to understand this. 

Now let us examine the second quote from Chazal:  How is getting angry like serving idols?  The Rambam gives a beautiful answer:  He says that, when one gets angry, they are only thinking about themselves, thinking that the thing that has to do with them is more important than other things, essentially that they come first.  So how is this like avodah zarah?  Answers the Rambam wonderfully, this person, is serving themselves.  They are concentrating only on them, and not on serving Hashem.  Look at how serious anger is!  We are serving ourselves, instead of Hashem, and all types of Gehinom rule over us!  Is this not awful? 

But then there is the obvious question:  How do we keep away from anger?  Is it not a natural trait?  Maybe the answer is that, if we realize that Hashem is in charge, we won't get angry, except for about things that we are supposed to be upset about.  How?  To answer this question, we must explore the meaning of anger.  Anger is a type of upset-ness.  Anger about ones own problems is when something happens to you, and you don't like it.  You then get upset about it, a lot of times thinking that it is unfair that it happened to you.  Now we have the answer!!  When one realizes that Hashem controls everything, they won't get angry about this stuff!  They will realize that it all comes from Hashem, and everything He makes happen is for the best!  On this concept, the author of the book Derech Avodah - Bein Adam L'Makom writes:

HaRav Tzaddok HaKohen of Lublin zt”l says something on the passuk in Parshas Beshalach ‘Ki Ani Hashem Rof’echa/For I am Hashem your Healer’ that helps explain this concept:  He explains that Hashem is telling us that even when He brings punishments upon us; it is only to heal us![1]  He is our Healer always.  Everything that He does is perfectly fair and just, and it is only for our benefit.  Some people get upset when misfortune befalls them, but in truth, we should accept it with joy, as we know that whenever Hashem makes something happen, it is for the best, and furthermore, to heal us!  If someone truly pondered these thoughts, they would realize that there is no such thing coming from Hashem really as misfortune.  It is all for our benefit.  So just like when Hashem brings good things on us and we accept them with joy and gratitude, so too, if Hashem brings something that doesn’t seem good upon us, we should accept it with joy and gratitude, because it is not really misfortune at all, it is for the best, just like the good things!  He makes things happen that are really all for the best, but we just don’t understand His Supreme Wisdom.  Truly, a person should be happy with everything that Hashem makes happen.  Aharon HaKohen reached this level, as we see in Parshas Shemini, when his sons, Nadav and Avihu brought the alien fire, and Hashem had to take their lives.  The Torah says ‘Vayidom Aharon/And Aharon was silent’, to which the Chafetz Chaim comments, and explains a beautiful thing:  He explains that when the Torah says that Aharon was silent, it means that he was not only silent on the outside, but also on the inside as well!  Normally, if something bad, Chas V’Shalom happens, a person would be extremely upset and either voice this, or voice it on the inside.  But, as the Chafetz Chaim explains, Aharon was such a huge Tzaddik that he wasn’t even brooding within himself!  He knew that everything that Hashem makes happen is for the best, and we cannot ever question it.  His Judgment is perfect always.  A lot of people know this, but are they really on such a level that they never get upset with any of Hashem’s Judgements?  We must reach this level!  A person should always be happy with whatever Hashem brings on them.  Now, we might get upset at ourselves sometimes if we, Chas V’Shalom don’t do the right thing, but that should be constructive.  It shows that we are upset about doing something bad, and that it matters to us.

This is a way not to get angry.  When we recognize Hashem properly, we will come to understand that everything happens for the best.  And we can reach the level where we do not get angry, B'Eizer Hashem (with the Help of Hashem)!  Hashem made every goal attainable, and so this one is not different!  We can all do this!  We can!  Just with Hashem's help!  Please, everybody try!  Please!  We must! 

May Hashem help every single Jew to not get angry for the wrong reasons, help us all become better people, and help us to come back to Him in complete Teshuvah (repentance).  And in the merit of this, He will send Moshioch very speedily in our days.  May He do this very swiftly.  Amein, so may it be His Will. 
I wish every single Jew a wonderful, wonderful Shabbos, and may HaKadosh Baruch Hu help us all to have one!  Amein!
Refoel Berel

[1] Stone Edition Chumash, Parshas Korach. Artscroll Publications©. 

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