Anger can be an Expensive Luxury
Pay attention to what people say to you out of anger—they’ve been dying to tell you that! As pleasurable as it seems to fire off an email or text message while you’re angry, it’s never a good idea. Speak when you’re angry and you’ll make the best speech you’ll ever regret.
It’s been said that the best remedy for anger is delay, but the Torah this week raises us higher, challenging us to root out anger by diving to the root of the matter. While it’s true that a moment of patience in a moment of anger saves you a hundred moments of regret, imagine if you could raise your consciousness higher to the point where nothing provokes you. Wouldn’t that be an amazing place to be?
Regarding the first Parsha of the Torah—Bereishis (Genesis)—the Lubavitcher Rebbe told us that “the way we start the year influences the rest of the year,” because our ability to relate and personalize the message of this week’s Torah portion changes our perception of everything that the year will bring us.
Beyond the story you heard in Hebrew School
The story of Genesis—how G-d created the universe in six days— is deep. Very deep. Let’s take a closer look at it.
The nature of everything that exists is to return to its most natural state of rest. A stretched elastic will return to its original shape and a flying rock will eventually settle on the ground. The only reason for it not doing so would be a greater force working on it. As soon as that force dissipates, the entity will indeed return to its original state.
When G-d created the universe, the Torah tells us that He created it from nothingness. This means that everything that exists yearns to return to its original form as nothing. The only reason that it stays in existence is because of the greater force that continues to work on it. That force is the creative energy of G-d Almighty, which continues to create every existence at every single moment in time.
This means that Creation is not only an event that happened 5783 years ago. It’s an ongoing reality that must continue at every single moment. Were it to cease for even a moment, the universe would revert to its natural state of nothingness.
Indeed, in our prayers, we praise Hashem twice daily: “Hamechadesh betuvo bechol yom tomid ma’aseh Breishis (G-d—who in His kindness renews daily the act of Creation).”
If G-d wanted to destroy the Universe, He would simply have to cease His creation of it. There would be no further action necessary. This is called the Doctrine of Perpetual Creation, and it serves as a vital foundational premise for a proper understanding of Jewish Spirituality.
With this mindset, we have a clarity of vision like never before. Everything that ever happens to us is from G-d. Absolutely no one has any power over us, other than G-d Almighty. And He loves us because we’re his kids.
Echoing this profound worldview, the Talmud tells us that “anyone who is angry is an idol worshiper.” Though initially, it sounds outrageous, the wisdom of this statement reflects G-d’s exclusive control over every detail of our lives. One who loses his cool betrays his belief that G-d is not in control and that it is actually the subject of his ire who has true power over him!
Accepting G-d’s true sovereignty and control is an amazing approach to life. As a rabbi, I have met many people who have successfully mastered it, and I can confidently say that they have found true peace and happiness. I have always been inspired by the example of my namesake, King David, as he exhibited this weltanschauung (worldview) when he was most vulnerable. In the middle of the ninth century BCE, while running for his life from his son Avshalom, who was trying to kill him, King David encounters Shimi ben Geira, the head of the Sanhedrin (Jewish Supreme Court) who curses him publicly. While his men prepare to silence the man by killing him, David holds them back by saying: “Hanichu lo, ki Havayah amar lo kalel (Leave him be, for it is G-d that is cursing through him)” (Samuel II 16:11).
Instead of losing his temper, King David’s reaction is truly fit for a true monarch. His majestic response is the ultimate manifestation of the conviction that G-d is the source of all existence, whether it seems good, bad, or ugly. G-d is always with us. Becoming angry is nothing more than becoming unconscious of the presence of G-d at the core of the provocation, choosing to shoot the messenger instead of hearing the message.
Control your anger—it’s just one letter away from danger. Instead of Thomas Jefferson’s advice “when angry, count to ten before you speak,” in Parshas Bereishis, the Torah raises our consciousness to a whole new world. You can do this. You can shed anger and live with a stronger awareness of the Creator of the Universe working wonders around you at all times. If you’re going to rise, you might as well shine!
Let’s learn how to dance in the rain instead of waiting for the storm to pass.
Rabbi Dovid Vigler
Chabad of Palm Beach Gardens
6100 PGA Blvd, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418
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