Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Middot & Anger

So much of the laws in Mishpatim have to do with anger, and the sins that come from anger. Hitting/cursing one's parents, lying in wait to kill someone, two men striving and ending up injuring a woman. As my sil Arava stated earlier, when we get angry w/a person we build  up a case against them in our head, we condemn them and build a case up against them in Shemayim.

(previous discussion was here by the way, if anyone wants to go and look )

How easy it is to become angry, at least it seems to me easy enough to do. A disobedient child, a thoughtless comment, a rude store clerk.

The last was from a recent incident; I entered a store to make a purchase: I wanted to get a small gift for a friend. I did not know quite what I wanted to buy, and I had very little money to make the purchase, so I was just looking around.
I entered an aisle and was looking up and down the shelves when the storekeeper came over, demanded I come out of the aisle, demanded to know what I had come for, and how much money I had to spend. When I tried to explain I was looking for a gift, but didn't know what but I had X amount of money, he told me "We've nothing for that..." in a tone which implied that I should leave. His face was so cruel and condemning, and I was so upset....

And angry. I left livid, turned and gave him a face back, almost as if I were spitting.


And two stores away I made a purchase from one of my favorite little stores...

But I wondered as I walked away: Did I just fail a test? 

Why did I have to become so angry because someone was so rude? So he wasn't nice to me. There were other stores to make a purchase at. Why couldn't I just leave and say "ok, whatever that was about I don't understand but there are other places to get the gift..."

Was that a test? Probably. Isn't that what most of our life is about? And if so, I did fail. 

So what are the steps to learn how not to become angered, even when, most people I think, would see it as justifiable in some senses?

How do we learn to tame the monster?


mhbrock46 said...

I love the fact that you are struggling with this! Why should we take any opportunity for improvement for granted? Thank you. I've noticed in myself that the flashpoint of anger is always representative of something ongoing. The moment is just the catalyst that sparks a latent fuel.

When I worked at a Starbucks, there was a woman who was quite rude and demanding, treating us as servants. Was she wrong? Definitely. But, like you, I knew that there was something much deeper going on. Something that, if I responded properly, could be life-altering for me.

Why was her incivility such an issue? I think that in this case, she was tapping into my unrelenting desire to be admired, to be thought highly of. Only she wasn't going along with the program! She was my reality check. After all, wasn't it just my lack of trust that HASHEM will share with me what glory He desires me to have - one based on real goodness and not shallow imagery? And if I didn't 'get it' this time, there's plenty more where she came from! Funny how we keep getting the same life lessons until we finally transform. I'm still trying to learn this one, so I expect more 'reality checks' in this area as in many others. Your note is an encouragement to see the opportunity for change and not just for a behavior justification.

Rachel Ann said...

You are so right about it keeps coming! Hashem wants us to learn, and yet I still keep getting angry. I have to find a way to short circuit that anger button and moving onto the lesson learned! thank you for stopping by.

rgoldstand said...

Please let me know how to do that if you figure it out... ;) Every Elul I tell myself THAT is what I need to work on this year and yet anger still seems to be the hardest issue to tackle...