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6 Jewish Ways to Respond to Anger

6 Jewish Ways to Respond to Anger

Practical tools for anger management.

by

1. Realize you’re not in control.

Realize you’re not in control

Our sages refer to anger as idolatry (Maimonides - Laws of Behavior 2:2). When you think you’re Master of the Universe and things inexplicably don’t bend to your will, you explode. “This is my lane buddy, get out of my way!”

You’re not God. Be humble and realize you’re not in control.

2. Give yourself a time out.

Give yourself a time out

When we’re angry, we are not rational. We say things we don’t mean to say. And we are capable of doing terrible things that we normally would never consider doing. That’s why the Talmud tells us not to discipline our kids when angry; we’re not being objective and at that moment any action is not for the sake of the child (Talmud - Moed Katan 17a).

So remove yourself from the situation, count to 10, breathe deeply, cool off and get a grip. It’s okay to go to bed angry.

3. Release your anger: write a letter.

Release your anger: write a letter

Keeping your anger all bottled up creates stress and an internal pressure cooker that at some point will erupt, releasing itself in a negative way. You can get if off your chest by writing an uncensored letter to the person you’re angry at. Express how you really feel; don’t hold back. Then rip up the letter. This is for your eyes only.

4. Use anger as your teacher.

Use anger as your teacher

What’s really making you angry? What does it trigger inside of you? What message are you taking from this hurt? Anger is often a result of deeper frustrations, and based on a distorted view of the situation. Figure out what is triggering your anger and evaluate objectively if you’re reading the situation right.

5. Forgive.

forgive

Forgiveness does not mean condoning or justifying any misdeeds. It means seeing the person who hurt you as a hurt person. It’s giving up your desire for revenge. It's untying the knots that keep you emotionally entwined and prevent you from healing.

6. Everything God does is for the good.

Everything God does is for the good

One of Rabbi Akiva’s maxims is "All that the Merciful One does, He does for good" (Talmud - Brachot 60b). Everything God does is out of love; it’s for our good. We may not be able to see the big picture right now, especially in the midst of anger, but stop and ask yourself: “Why do I need this right now? How is this for my ultimate good?” The answer may surprise you.

With thanks to Yvette Miller

November 5, 2017

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The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 31

(19) brian, November 27, 2017 7:42 AM

polite but firm

If someone is acting unreasonably in a way that makes me angry, then I try to be polite but firm with them; I use decent language and strive to attack their *behavior*, and not them personally (there's a subtle but important difference between calling someone a jerk, and telling them that's it's not becoming for them to act like a jerk).

(18) Mr Goodwin, November 10, 2017 4:30 AM

Good Anger Tips

Good article. Easy to apply strategies. Easy to remember.

(17) Julia, November 8, 2017 5:44 PM

How to respond to anger

This superb article is about managing your own anger. But ...what should I do when other people explode in anger, especially at me? Especially when I'm INNOCENT!!!!

(16) Anonymous, November 6, 2017 12:23 PM

Re: Identifying the source of my anger

When I am angry it is usually because I feel misunderstood. My husband once told me that perhaps I need to make myself more clear so that I can get my point across.

(15) mbaranovs, January 7, 2015 7:59 PM

Anger can be controlled

I believe that anger can be controlled if you know how to control it. Anger can be controlled in many ways like meditation or using the count to ten method. If people don't know how to control their anger or their emotions they should take some classes or just follow the five ways to respond to anger listed in this article. It is alright to be angry but people need to know when enough is enough. Controlling your anger is a thing that all people need to know how to do. For example, if you have a teacher or classmate that makes you upset you should learn how to control your anger and not hurt anyone. Everyone can benefit from learning to control their anger and not acting on their emotions.

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