Jewish Learning

Anger


Ecclesiastes 7:3

3. Anger is better then laughter; for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.

Your Ecclesiastes Navigator

1. The Hebrew word for anger "ka' as" can mean anger and sorrow. Why are these words interchangeable in Hebrew?

Ecclesiastes 1:18

18. For in much wisdom there is much anger; and he that increases knowledge increases sorrow.

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1. Do you find that wisdom brings anger? Why?

Babylonian Talmud, Pesachim 113b

There are three people the Holy One loves: One who does not get angry. One who does not get drunk. One who does not stand on ceremony. There are three people who the Holy One hates: One who speaks one way with his mouth and another with his heart. One who could bear witness for his friend and does not do so. One who witnesses a sexual transgression and testifies alone.

Your Talmud Navigator

1. What qualities are exhibited by one who does not get drunk, does not get angry and does not stand on ceremony?
2. Why are these qualities especially loveable in the eyes of God?

Babylonian Talmud, Brachot 7a

Rabbi Johanan further said in the name of Rabbi Yossi: How do you know that we must not try to placate a man in the time of his anger? For it is written: "My face will go and I will give you rest." (Exodus 33:14) The Holy One, said to Moses: Wait till My face of wrath passes by and then I shall give you rest.

But does the Holy One get angry? Yes. For it has been taught: "A God that has indignation every day." (Psalms 7:12)

Your Talmud Navigator

1. This passage teaches how to deal with anger. How does the Talmud learn this?
2. What do we make of the statement that God does get angry?

Babylonian Talmud, Eruvin 65b

Rabbi Ila'i said: A person is known by three things: his cup (by how he holds his wine), his pocket (by his generosity) and his anger.

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1. Rabbi Ila'i teaches that this is how a person is known, not how a person actually is. Why is this an important distinction?

Maimonides, The Laws of Behavior 2:2

...So too with anger which is an extremely destructive trait, and it is fitting that one should distance one's self from it to the most extreme, and train himself not to get angry, even at something at which it is appropriate to be angry. If he wishes to make a point with his family or his community, if he was a trustee, and he wishes to improve their ways, he should feign anger in front of them in order to impress them, but he should be in control of himself when he is feigning anger, for he should not truly be angry.

The sages stated: Anyone who becomes angry is like one who practices idolatry.

And they stated: Anyone who is angry--if he is wise, his wisdom flees from him. If he is a Prophet--his Prophecy flees from him. Those who live with rage, their lives aren't worth living, therefore, they commanded [us] to distance ourselves from anger to the point where we will not be sensitive to that which is worth being angry about. This is the best way, and the way of the righteous. They will take insults, but they will not insult others. They will heed their shame, and they will not respond. They only act out of love, and they are happy even in their affliction. It is written of them: "And those who love Him are like the sun that comes out when it is most mighty." (Judges 5:31)

Your Maimonides Navigator

1. Maimonides challenges us to remove anger completely from our lives. How do we reconcile his words with the fact that God also gets angry?
2. Are we being taught to remove anger or just not to show it to others?
3. Can this be achieved?


Source: Rabbi Avi Weinstein, Director, Hillel's Joseph Meyerhoff Center for Jewish Learning. Reprinted with permission.