emunah, tefillah, a little mussar, and a shmeck of geula

Monday, September 9, 2013

A Speed Bump Named Anger

We learned in EmunahSpeak: The Most Serious Character Flaw, that anger (ka’as) is a most serious character flaw which causes one to sin.

And as we said there, probably the most important reason why this is so is because when a person gets angry he loses his connection with reality, and having done so, even after he calms down he will still be disconnected from Hashem.  Not only is he, as Chazal tell us, like one who is considered to have worshipped idols, and therefore as one who has no G-d, but he is also like one who has no self.

We also mentioned there that A Jew has to be able to contemplate, and ka'as disrupts the inner quietude upon which contemplation thrives.  And it does it to such an extent that a Jew’s very essence atrophies.

A Jew has to able to contemplate Hashem in the abstract and his relationship with Him so, given the subconscious object of his ka’as, is it any wonder that the ka’as eats away at his very essence.  For after all, is not all ka’as at its core theoretically directed at Hashem?  Reduced to its lowest common denominator, when you get angry you are putting Hashem out of the equation.  It’s our way of showing that we are not happy with His cheshbon even though we rarely, if ever, have the presence of mind to connect the dots.

Another aspect of ka’as, which is an emotional reaction to a perceived provocation, is that it causes us to cede control of our mind to whatever is pushing our button, be it a person, the weather, or a barking dog.

Rabbi Jonathan Rietti dissects this all too familiar scenario and asks: Is anger really a provocation? Who controls the anger anyway?  You or the one provoking you?  And he answers that we invariably tend to point a finger at the other guy, thereby abdicating our responsibility both for the flare up and for control of our own mind.

Hashem wants us to be in control of our mind, rather than turning it over to our loose cannon emotions.

And then there’s the question of change and relationships.

Anger gets us out of being honest with ourselves because we're too busy accusing everyone else for what essentially is our problem.  Rabbi Rietti tells us that by doing this I’m avoiding intimacy with myself and also avoiding changing the only person that I was put in this world to change…me.  

We're also avoiding an honest relationship with Hashem because anger is a complaint against Him.  Hashem wants us to deal with Him directly.  He doesn’t want us to direct our attention toward others by pointing fingers and the like when it should be directed toward Him.

A mind is one’s most valuable real estate.  Either you control it or someone else will.

Rabbi Rietti informs us that Hashem wants us to rent space to Him in our head rather than getting angry at others and allowing them to take over our head instead.  

The end of the matter is that ka’as is not real.  It’s a brilliant lie that helps us avoid a relationship with ourselves, our friends, our loved ones, and Hashem, while at the same time relegating to a back burner without a flame any possibility of us changing.