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GOOD MORNING! One of the major questions in life is, "Do we control our emotions or do our emotions control us?" Our Torah teaches that we have the ability to control our emotions. It is not easy, but it can be done.
A friend of mine once pointed to a great rabbi and said, "You know, you can be just like him ... if you work on yourself for 70 years." Hopefully, it doesn't take 70 years to learn how to control emotions. One of the most disruptive and devastating emotions is anger. Hopefully, this piece will be of use ... if for nothing else than passing it on to someone you care about.
Q & A: WHAT CAUSES ANGER AND HOW CAN IT BE CONQUERED?
The Sages tell us (Talmud, Shabbat 115) regarding a person who gets angry that it is as if he worshipped idols. What idol is he worshipping? Himself. We get angry because we have expectations that everything must be exactly like we want it. No wonder the author of Orchot Tzadikim (The Ways of the Righteous - available from your local Jewish book store or by calling toll-free 877-758-3242) says that a person controlled by anger denies himself happiness in life. An angry person is out of control and at the whim of outside forces!
Let's analyze when we get angry: We trip on something, someone bumps into us; a colleague, spouse or child doesn't listen to us. In the first two cases, something happens that we aren't expecting. In the latter case, it is the frustration of having our will thwarted!
Anger comes from having a fragile ego. We interpret what happens as a direct personal attack instead of happenstance, sloth, incompetence or inconsideration. Internally, we are telling ourselves: "How can this be happening to me - I am too important for this to happen to me!"
There is a place for anger - the most appropriate place being in the dictionary. Also, if you are physically attacked, anger focuses one's response. An angry person may be listened to (if he has the power), but he appears like a meshugenah (a crazy person); will be feared, not loved; endangers his health (through high blood pressure) and is not being maximally effective or enjoying life. If he is trying to rebuke his child or student, they may hear his point, but they will come away with an awful role model on how to handle stress or displeasure. (A parent owes his child three things: example, example, example.) It has been said that raising children by yelling at them is like driving a car by honking the horn. One should appear angry when punishing a child, but never punish a child out of anger.
Anger can be controlled. Imagine that someone bumps into you very hard; you start to get angry and then you turn around to see that it is a blind man - or that special person you've always wanted to meet - or a 6'6" bully. Your perspective immediately changes and you might find that asking, "Did you hurt yourself?" is a more appropriate or judicious response.
Other tips on controlling anger:
- Realize that anger is counter-productive and commit to not getting angry.
- Appreciate how insane you look when you do get angry (perhaps carry a pocket mirror and refuse to get angry until you take it out to watch yourself)!
- Set up a fine system and pay someone (preferably someone you don't like) a large fine if you get angry.
- Imagine that you just won the Lottery - would you still get angry over this trifle? (If you don't get angry, you have just won the Lottery in the battle to control your behavior!)
- Delay getting angry - yes, count to 10 - or leave the room before exploding.
- If you do get angry, cut it short and be sure to apologize and set yourself to do better in the future.
Torah Portion of the Week
This week's portion tells a story often repeated throughout history: The Jews become prominent and numerous. There arises a new king in Egypt "who did not know Joseph" (meaning he chose not to know Joseph or recognize any debt of gratitude). He proclaims slavery for the Jewish people "lest they may increase so much, that if there is war, they will join our enemies and fight against us, driving (us) from the land." (Anti-Semitism can thrive on any excuse; it need not be logical or real - check out our online seminar "Why the Jews?" at http://www.aish.com/seminars/anti-semitism/index.html. It's spectacular!)
Moshe (Moses) is born and immediately hidden because of the decree to kill all male Jewish babies. Moses is saved by Pharaoh's daughter, grows up in the royal household, goes out to see the plight of his fellow Jews. He kills an Egyptian who was beating a Jew, escapes to Midian when the deed becomes known, becomes a shepherd, and then is commanded by God at the Burning Bush to "bring My people out of Egypt." Moses returns to Egypt, confronts Pharaoh who refuses to give permission for the Israelites to leave. And then God says, "Now you will begin to see what I will do to Pharaoh!"
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states:
"And the King of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, one was Shifrah and the name of the second was Puah." (Exodus 1:15)
What do we learn from their names?
Rashi, the 13th century French commentator, informs us that Shifrah was a second name for Yocheved, Moshe's mother. She was called Shifrah (from the Hebrew root "L'shahper" - to make better) because she did things for the betterment of the infants in her care. Puah was another name for Miriam, Moshe's sister. She was called Puah because of the comforting sounds ("poo poo") she would make to the infants as mothers do to calm a crying baby.
Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz of the Mir Yeshiva comments that the Torah calls someone by a certain name when it represents the essence of the person. The fact that Yocheved and Miriam were called by these names indicate that kindness is an integral part of their very being. Yocheved and Miriam have a special place in the Torah as Shifrah and Puah because of their compassion for babies.
When you experience love and compassion for others, you are emulating the attributes of the Almighty. The greater your act of kindness, the more elevated you become. An infant or young child who experiences warmth and love grows up to be a more loving person. This early conditioning will have life-long positive effects. Such a child will find it much easier to feel love for the Almighty and love for his fellow man. Whenever you make a young child feel good, be aware of the extent of your kindness. The deeper your appreciation for the kindness you are doing, the more elevated you become.
CANDLE LIGHTING - January 16:
(or Go to http://www.aish.com/candlelighting)
Guatemala 5:34 Hong Kong 5:42 Honolulu 5:51
J'Burg 6:47 London 4:03 Los Angeles 4:48
Melbourne 7:21 Miami 5:34 Moscow 4:14
New York 4:336 Singapore 6:59
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
Anger is one letter from danger!
In Loving Memory of