שלום בשערך - Peace in Your Gates

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

שער הכעס Continued...

Michael: Thank you for the excellent analysis in your last post, and sorry for the delay in picking up the thread! So, without further delay, here is the next section of the שער:
ואתה רואה בני אדם, כשהם כועסים ומחזיקים בכעסם, אינם משימים לבם על מה שעושים, ועושים הרבה ענינים בכעסם מה שלא היו עושים בלא הכעס, כי הכעס מוציא שכלו של אדם מקרבו עד שמרבה דברי הכעס, ונכנס במחלוקת וקנטורים. לכן אי אפשר שיינצל הכעסן מחטאים גדולים. וכן אמר אליהו לרב יהודה (ברכות כט ב): לא תרתח ולא תחטי. ואמרו (עירובין סה ב):
בשלשה דברים ניכר האדם, האחד מהם - בכעסו, כי בעת הכעס אדם ניכר: אם יתגבר כעסו על חכמתו ועושה עניינים בעת הכעס בלא הנהגת החכמה - בזה ניכר כעסו. ואם תתגבר חכמתו על כעסו, ולא ידבר, ולא יעשה מעשה מחמת הכעס מה שלא היה עושה בלא הכעס - בזה ניכרת חכמתו:

Free translation: "And you see people, when they are angry and hold onto their anger, they do not take notice of what they are doing. And they do things in their anger that they would never do without being angry, because anger negates a person's reason and begets angry words which causes him to enter into arguments and controversies.

Therefore, it is impossible for an angry person to save himself from major sins. And so said Eliahu to Rav Yehuda (Brachot 29b): 'Don't become upset and you will not sin.' And, [says the Gemara] (Eruvin 65b): 'By three things is a person recognized...' one of them is his anger, because at the time of his anger a person is revealed: if his anger overcomes his reason, and he does things while he is angry that defy reason--by this his level of anger is recognizable. And if his reason ovecomes his anger, and he does not say nor do things while angry that he would not do while he is not angry, by this is recognized his level of wisdom."

Wow--pretty powerful mussar that really hits home for me. It's humbling (and embarrassing!) just to remember a few things I've done in the past while angry (that I would never have otherwise done). Clearly, I don't measure up too well on the scale of wisdom at least when I become angry.

Moreover, I find the biggest challenge in this particular area--that of trying to control my anger, and not have it overpower my "sechel," is with my family--the very people I least want to hurt--who are the ones who consistently get the worst of it, at least compared to how I behave at work, in public, etc. I think it's the "boosha" factor; you know, the ol' "What would people think of me if I got angry, etc., etc." However, when it comes to my family, the attitude is, "So, nu, nu...Why can't a man let his hair down at home, etc., etc."

Clearly, this is wrong. Not only that but (as I've unfortunately seen) children are very quick to pick up on their parents' bad habits. And, I've noticed that some of my children have developed "coping" strategies for dealing with stress (which are less than exemplary) that bear a strong resemblance to those of you-know-who!

In the final analysis, I think it gets back to a previous point about hashgacha pratis--i.e., if I really felt that Hashem was directing all the affairs of my life, then I wouldn't get so angry, b/c getting angry is (usually) a response to a situation that doesn't go the way I want it to. But who am I? And why does the world have to be arranged according to my desires?! If I truly believed that "kol ma d'avad Rachmana l'tav avid (Everything Hashem does is for the best) then, takke, that also includes those times when things *don't* go my way. And moreover, on a deeper level that could b'dafka, be the reason why I (meaning my neshama) was put here in this green earth was to experience these sorts of frustrations and learn to overcome them (as a tikkun for my neshama).

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