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The Fourth Pillar: Not Getting Angry

by Yossi Katz

IV. Fourth Pillar: Not Getting Angry

The fourth fundamental principle is that “When one hears someone insulting them, they should keep silent and hold their peace” (Likutey Moharan I:6). This is the foundation of Teshuvah, the return to God.[1]

One has to know that everything which is done to them even by another human, who has free will, all comes from God. Therefore, if someone treats you abusively or causes you harm, you should know that it all comes from God.[2] If you jump at the other person and vent your anger, you are only driving away your own holy soul through failing to believe in God’s control over every detail of the Creation.[3] A human being is only a messenger from God – “They stand this day to execute Your judgments, for all are Your servants” (Psalms 119:91, cf. Nedarim 41).[4] Everything is sent from God for our own benefit, to cleanse us from our sins.[5] If we respond with anger it is as if we are refusing to listen or accept correction when the time has come to do just that.

The only way to fix what we have to fix in this life is through Teshuvah, and the main thing is to know that whatever happens, “From God this came to us” (Psalms 118:23). The word Teshuvah means return: one has to return everything to God through knowing that everything is from Him. The time this knowledge is revealed is when somebody hurts us and we say nothing to them, knowing that everything comes from God to scour us of our sins, purify us (cf. Daniel 9:24) and teach us understanding. The outer shell is peeled off, and the fruit – the inner Godliness – is revealed. Amen.

[1] There are two levels of teshuvah – repentance. One comes from the fear of God, where one fears punishment for his sins. The second, higher level is from the love of God (Yoma 86b). “Those who happily accept their embarrassments for the sake of serving God are considered those who love Him” (Shabbat 88b). Thus to accept embarrassment and remain silent is the essence of teshuvah.

[2] As King David was fleeing from his son, Abshalom, he was approached by Shim’iy ben Geira, who heaped curses on the King. David’s chief-of-staff wanted to kill Shim’iy, but King David replied: “Leave him be, God told him to curse me” (2 Samuel 16:5-11).

[3] “Any other impurity can only make the body impure, but anger makes the soul impure and drives away all holiness, causing the holy soul to be replaced with a soul from the ‘Other Side’, the side of the unholy” (Zohar II:182b). All types of suffering befall an angry person (Nedarim 22a).

[4] The Talmud in Nedarim 41a explains that once a judgment is passed against a person, anything and everything in the Creation can become a vehicle for meting out the punishment.

[5] “Suffering removes sin” (Yoma 86a).