Are People Really Insulting You? – the Woman Who Beat Up Her Husband

A friend came up to me on Shabbat. “I am really upset – This person treated me like a bum. My aide and I were sitting quietly and he told me that we don’t sit here like a bum.”

What am I to do? Tell him that he didn’t do it. He did it.

I said – maybe the person who complained thought you were someone else.

I told him a true story.

Once a rabbi with a beard was peacefully walking down the street. A woman walked up to him and started yelling. “How dare you come to my neighborhood! After all the pain you caused me when we were married! You have no shame?!” Her anger turned violent. She started hitting him with her purse. “take that!”

“Excuse me lady. I am not your ex-husband.” She took a good look and apologized. Oh I am sorry – I thought you were my ex. He caused me so much pain. Forgive me.”

A friend asked him – were you upset at her after what she did to you? He replied “No. She wasn’t beating me up – she was beating up her ex-husband.”

At times a person insults you. He might not be angry at you – perhaps he or she had a bad day and you happen to be in the way of that person’s anger.

You can take it personally. You can use it to change for the better. Or you can say perhaps the anger is directed at someone else or something else I did at another time.

The Hot Pot that Broke the Glass Table Cover – Calming Your Anger

They just installed the glass cover on our table top. Looks nice. I see them install it. Coming home later that day, I see a big crack in the glass. What? The first day we get it?

All is for the Good

Gam zu leTova. Also this is for the good. Perhaps it was a Kapara – an atonement for a deed. This is the lesser bad of two options of atonement.

The Evil Eye

Some will say it is Ayin HaRa / the Evil Eye. If someone sees something and they admire or desire it – they might cause an eventual damage to that object. How? We explained it before – G-d listens to the prayers of people. He also hears the heart of people. If someone wants something that you have – Hash-m pulls out the books of deeds of both people – He judges between them and if the one that lacks the object is more worthy or the one that has the object is unworthy – something happens to the object. Was it Ayin HaRa? Perhaps.

The Hot Pot

I find out someone – it doesn’t matter who – happened to put a very hot pot onto the glass. The tension caused by the heat in the glass caused it to break.

The Physics – A Free Physics Lesson

Heat causes objects to expand. Cold causes things to contract. If one places a Hot object on the glass – the glass heat is expanding the glass. The molecules in the cooler area around it is remaining stable. The expanding area is restrained by the cooler area and it breaks the glass.

A Lesson For Us – Don’t Get Heated Up

We sometimes get into a heated argument. The extreme heat breaks the relationship. It wasn’t worth it for a small matter to break the relationship. How important is the matter to you? Is it important enough to break the relationship? Decide it before the heat breaks the glass. Cool yourself down – don’t add heat to the fire. You won’t have to pay another $250 to replace the glass again or pay for a broken relationship that you will have to rebuild.

4 Types of Temperaments

In Pirkei Avot / Ethics of the Fathers 5:11 it says – There are 4 types of people – one gets angry quickly and calms down quickly. One who gets angry slowly and calms down slowly. One who gets angry quickly and takes much time to appease. One who gets angry slowly and is appeased easily. Let’s make efforts to be like the latter.

Rehearse Reaction to Situations that Anger

How? Rehearse in your mind how to react to particular things that anger you. And how to react in general. Count to 10 before you react. Take a glass of water before reacting. Act don’t react. Control Yourself – don’t let anger control you.

 

What is True Love? – the Torah View

The Foundation of the Torah

Once a Gentile came to Shammai – He said “Convert me to Judaism, if you can teach me the entire Torah while standing on one foot.” Shammai – thinking he was mocking him – drove him away with his measuring stick. The gentile came to Hillel. He said “Convert me to Judaism, if you can teach me the entire Torah while standing on one foot.” Hillel said “what is hateful to you – don’t do to others – this is the entire Torah. The rest is all details based upon that foundation.” The gentile decided to convert to Judaism.

You Shall Love Your Fellow as Yourself

Rabbi Akiva said – The foundation of the Torah is veahavta lereacha kamokha – “You shall love your fellow like Yourself.”

Reasons Why a Person May Divorce His Wife According to Torah

When discussing Divorce in the Talmud – Rabbi Akiva said a valid reason for divorce is “One can divorce his wife even if she burns his meal.”

His opinion seems contradictory. If one should love his fellow like himself – why should he divorce his wife on such a trivial matter?

The Foundation of Love

Rabbi Akiva reveals a foundation of the Torah that guides a person to live a life of Truth. Rabbi Akiva says that his love for his wife (and his fellow) should be true love. Love based upon the appreciation of the person – not based upon – what do I gain from the person. If burning a meal is enough for someone to get upset and want to divorce his wife because of it – then it is not true love – and if he wants he may divorce his wife.

Fish Love

Once a person said “I Love Fish.” His fellow replied “If you loved fish – you wouldn’t catch it, skin it, cook it and eat it. You just love yourself.” A question to ask is our love based upon a matter or based upon the other. This is what it says in Pirkei Avot / Ethics of the Fathers – (Chapter 5:16)

What is Love?

16. All love that is dependent upon a matter – when the matter is nullified the love is nullified. And when it is not dependent upon a matter – it will never be nullified. What is the love that depends upon a matter that is the love Amnon & Tamar. And that that is not dependent on a matter, that is the love of David & Jonathan. [At times the love of someone is really love of self-gratification – like one who says: “I love fish.” If he really loved it he wouldn’t kill it. This is love that is dependent on a matter].

What is True Love

Real love is an appreciation of the person. Many today marry on because they think consciously or unconsciously “what’s in it for me?” If you ask a person – why do you want to marry this person? They will reply “Because I love him or her.” Scratch a little deeper ask “Why do you love this person?” They will say “They make me happy.” That love is based upon what they do for you – not your appreciation of them.

What’s More Important a Good Meal or Respect for Your Spouse, Child or loved one?

When trivial matters annoy you about a person, it means that that trivial matter has in a sense more importance than the respect of the person. If you express anger at your spouse because they burned the meal, it may mean that your eating a good meal is more important to you than the honor, respect or feelings of your spouse.

Let it Go

The wise person, the loving person will say “Let it go.” “It’s OK” “everything doesn’t have to be perfect.” While I was saying this Dvar Torah / Word of Torah at the breakfast Table – someone accidentally spilled my cup of Orange Juice on the Table and in my plate. My immediate thought was to have a reaction – but I realized I was saying a Dvar Torah to forgive others and be accepting of others faults and imperfect acts. So I said calmly “Let’s get some Towels and clean this up.”

You Overlook Your Own Faults – Overlook the Faults of Others

Torah wants a person to have real love for others – as one loves themself. A person overlooks his faults – he should overlook faults of others.

If you want to correct someone – correct them, at the proper time, with the proper voice, in the proper place with love -for them – not anger – because of the slight to you.

King Balak was afraid of the Jews after they killed two giants Sihon & Og. Balak took – the gentile Prophet Bilaam to curse them. Bilaam had one blind eye. An alusion that we too should sometimes close our eyes to the failings of others. If we see their failings – we should ask what can we do to help them – rather than jumping on them for every small detail. Give people room to grow. Give people leeway to make a mistake. Usually mistakes are not done on purpose.

Lack of Self-Serenity Causes Dissatisfaction with Others

Their first two letters of For both Balak and Bilaam are Bet, Lamed. Together they Spell – bilbul – Confusion. The Inability to think or reason in a focused, clear manner. Lack of peace of mind or Confusion causes a person to be unsatisfied. If you have a calm state of mind – it’s easier to control your immediate reactions. If you learn mussar works you are better prepared to deal with stress. Believe it is good and it will be good. Believe Hash-m sends only good – and you’ll see the situation in a positive light.

One Rabbi said that the Hebrew Letters of Balak represent veahavta lereacha kamokh / Love Your Fellow as Yourself. A student said “I don’t understand Balak is spelled with a Bet, Lamed and Kuf – the first letters of the words veahavta lereacha kamokh – are Vav, Lamed, Kaf.” The Rebbe replied – If you love another you will overlook the small mistakes, slights and faults.

 

Improve Your Communication & Marriage – Learning from the Parrot

One of the secrets of a good marriage is good communication. The Torah teaches successful communication.

I met some people at a wedding recently. I gave them our “You are Special Card” by Ohr Binyamin. It lists 36 reasons why you are special. I told them once someone asked me “Do You have a card on Shalom Bayit / peaceful relations at home?” I replied: Yes – read one of these reasons on the card to your wife every day. A wife needs to feel appreciated by her husband. A simple “thank you” or buying her a gift regularly can go a long way for more peaceful relations. Take 2 minutes a day to think about & do what you can do to make your spouse happy.

Learning from Animals

The Talmud says we can learn from all men. It goes to the extent to say we can also learn from animals in Eruvin 100b:

Rabbi Yoḥanan said: Even if the Torah had not been given, we would nonetheless have learned modesty from the cat, and that stealing is objectionable from the ant….

What can we learn from parrots? Parrots repeat what a person says.

Empathy in Marriage

A spouse seeks empathy – an essential part of communication. Empathy means that you understand & feel the feelings of the other person. Men tend to be “problem solvers”. Women tend to be “Empathizers”. How do you empathize with someone? Repeat what they say in other terms – sincerely. For instance: Wife comes home from work and says “The boss was upset that I came late today.” The natural reaction of the man is – “Let’s put on the alarm a little earlier for tomorrow.” The wife doesn’t necessarily want to hear solutions. She wants you to feel for her that she was upset by the boss being upset. By empathizing you validate the other’s emotions. A more proper response would be – “I understand that it is upsetting when your boss feels frustrated.”

One lesson learned from the parrot.

You can also learn it from the Torah – in Pirkei Avot / Ethics of the Fathers chapter 6 – One of the 48 ways to acquire Torah is – Noseh Be’ol Im H’avero / Carrying the burden with your fellow. Noseh Be’ol also includes noticing the burden of your fellow and doing what you can to relieve it. You see a large pile of laundry – put a couple loads in the washer and dryer. Sensitivity to others is one way to become greater person.

The Wife Mirrors the Husband’s Actions

Once my aunt in a department store. She was looking for her sister, who looked similar to herself. She saw a woman and she waved. The Woman waved back. She thought she found her sister – when she realized that she was looking at a mirror.

G-d runs the world Middah Keneged Middah / Measure for Measure – what one does – comes back to them. One of the reasons G-d commanded a person to get married is for each to grow together. Having a partner – gives you many opportunities for growth. What a man does – is sometimes shown to him through his wife. If one gets angry at his employee – when he comes home his wife may become angry at him. If he was kind – she may be kind with him.

So – if a man sees that his wife is not acting with respect – the obvious – but incorrect – reaction is being upset with her. The Torah’s recommended reaction is not to correct her – to but to correct yourself – correct the action you did that prompted your wife to become upset.

If she reflects your deeds – you should not get angry at her – correct yourself and that will hopefully extinguish the negative attitude of your wife. Obviously – your reaction also depends on the situation. This is a simplified answer – to bring out the point. This point is also brought in the book “Garden of Peace” by rabbi Shalom Arusch.

Don’t Let Your Tears Go to Waste on Others

Babies cry. Adults cry. A baby cries when hungry, thirsty, uncomfortable or in pain. An adult cries more often because of emotional pain.

Although the gates of prayer were locked, the gates of tears remain open (see Talmud :Berachot 32b) . Thus we have another way to get our prayers answered. Tears.

What happens? A person needs a shoulder to cry upon. They relieve their hearts of their burdens by speaking with another individual or to Hash-m. They relieve their burden, but they forget to ask for salvation.

Yes – tell your troubles to Hash-m. But don’t stop there. Cry out & pray to Hash-m for what you need. “Hash-m give me strength, patience & wisdom to deal with this class of rowdy students.” “Hash-m, please help me to find the best job to support my family in a dignified manner that will also let me dedicate time to learning Torah.”

Use your tears to improve your lot. Don’t use them to destroy someone else’s lot. You might be angry at another that brought you to tears. You have a choice to pray for their detriment or for your uplift. Pray for your uplift. G-d will listen.

You gain not by someone’s downfall. You do gain from your uplift. Use your emotional pain to thrust your tefilot / prayers to heaven.

Be specific in your prayers. Don’t just say Hashem – find me a mate. Pray, please Hash-m find me a mate that has good middot / character traits, from a good family, that learns Torah & will be able to support a family by the end of the month. You fill in your requirements.

Even tears of gratitude, or just verbal gratitude to Hash-m, should be accompanied by prayer. Once you say thank you – you insinuate that you are satisfied with the outcome. Ask for more benedictions, even when you say thank you.

G-d will turn your tears of pain into tears of joy. Amen.

What’s Your EQ? Your Emotional Maturity

People get stuck. If it’s for good – good. But if it’s negative – you got to get out of that negativity.

Some people are petty all their lives. They complain about that they never became who they wanted. They never got that job. They look at others and remain in complain mode all their lives.

Sad.

Breaking Potential

We all have much potential. But we waste it on – cell phones, killing time, being stuck in my way or the highway mode.

We think we know it all. More than even G-d. That was my mistake. I was thinking what G-d wants is not my problem – until I had a rude awakening. I learned the hard way. But now looking back – that awakening – painful as it was – was worth it to awaken me from my living the false dreams that occupies most of society’s mind.

Pleasant Reality

Cool water splashing in my face – I realized what reality really is – and it was a pleasant surprise.

Living a Lifetime of Childhood

I was living the life of a child. I want my new toy. Give it to me or I will be upset. Give me my popularity. Say I am cool. Let me be the Mr. Popular of the clique. I was.

My whole clique prided ourselves on being different. I took it seriously. Others took it as a fad. My friends became lawyers, accountants, finance people – but I held on to the Idea – of not following the crowd – somehow discovering myself in the process.

When you break off from following the clique – you realize that – what you thought was individuality was really following the crowd. Most of the world follows what is popular. Even in religious circles – you form a new clique.

The Way Out

Your only safeguard in life is following the truth. If you are lucky – you will realize the truth of the Torah. If you are not – you will jump from one clique to another – trying to convince yourself that your happy and having a good time or that your truth is truth. I know. I was there in that shell – until suffering broke me out of the shackles of society’s ideas.

The path was painful many days. I started learning Torah. Many years passed and I emerged from my cocoon as a new man. Not following the status quo – but trying to please my Creator. It wasn’t necessarily because I was so religiously oriented – but I thought that that would be the best path to alleviate the pain.

So now I share some of my lessons learned.

The Cookie Story

Once a man bought a pack of cookies in the airport. On the plane the passenger sitting next to him  took a cookie from the pack. The man was astounded that someone would take his cookies without permission. He didn’t want to say anything – so he took one cookie as well. The other passenger took another cookie. He took another one also. The last cookie the other person broke in half and they shared it.

After the trip – he was wondering how a person could be so bold to take his cookies. When reaching into his carry-on – he found – the cookies he bought. The person next to him was taking and sharing his own cookies.

Many things one can learn from this story – one thing is that the person that you think is taking from you may really be helping you out. An example – you give a dollar to a poor person – you think you are Mr. Generous. Really that person is helping you out more – because he helped you to receive reward for the Mitzvah that you did by giving him money.

If the same happened to you – how would you react? Would it bother you? Would you say something? Would you complain?

The way you answer is one indicator of your emotional maturity (or your level of generosity).

Let’s say it was your roommate. Let’s say the cookies were really yours. Let’s say he or she took your things on a constant basis.

Do you rank them out? Do you complain to others? Do you feel all upset? Do you mention to them in a nice way that you don’t appreciate their behavior? Do you swallow your pride and don’t mention anything – but you have a silent grudge towards them? Or do you try to find some way to find a way to justify their actions or pacify yourself?

Your reaction – is an indicator of your Emotional maturity.

I was discussing with someone – saying that the most proper reaction is the latter – to find a way to justify their actions. Why? Because all other reactions will not help you grow. You will react to your friend and thus react the same way the next time around. One will be complaining about people eating their cookies for the next 100 years of their life. They did not change. The same way you came into the world – you go out. Grumpy in – grumpy out.

Growth starts with belief in G-d. If one believes not in G-d – when push comes to shove they will usually act like tiger towards an animal that grabbed his lunch. But to grow – you know that there is a higher authority watching you. You cannot just do anything. You cannot go bonkers or overboard – because of the decorum that G-d expects of you.

The man (or woman) of growth will think – “perhaps that person cannot afford to buy their own cookies. Perhaps they don’t like to go out and buy cookies and think that you are a generous soul that doesn’t mind them serving themselves. Perhaps G-d is testing your emotional maturity. Perhaps G-d is trying to help you become more generous.

You choose your reaction. You are not forced to react a particular way. The more mature you are the more cool, calm and collected will be your reaction.

You build your maturity – when you control your emotions. Some just want to let off steam. Some gain pleasure from getting angry. Afterwards they justify themselves by saying “you made me angry.” No one makes you angry – only you yourself decides to get angry.

You choose – either the path of letting off steam or the path to growth. The path to growth will lead you to satisfaction with yourself. The path of letting off steam – you may remain a child – with your childish recations for the rest of your life.

You have before you life and good or death and bad. Choose life. Control yourself and grow. Become more mature. Don’t remain a 10 year old the rest of your life.

You control your reactions – you choose whether you will grow or stagnate.

You choose whether you will become a noble soul or a penny pincher or a tit for tatter the rest of your life.

It is much easier to grow when you believe in Hash-m and Torah. For you know that all that happens to you is for your best interest.

Got a parking ticket & you don’t have great faith – you are miserable all day.

Got a parking ticket & you do believe in Hash-m – you feel great and thankful that G-d saved you from a worse fate.

It takes work, control and belief in G-d – but you can grow to that better person. The Torah is the ultimate self-improvement guide. It teaches us to emulate G-d – what better example can we have?

Shelf Your Hatred – Better Use Your Time Productively

This past Sunday was Tisha B’Av.

The Day when both Beit Hamikdash / Holy Temples in Jerusalem were destroyed.

The first was destroyed by the Babylonians. The Second by the Romans.

Hatred – the Great Time Waster

Many people hated the Jews.

the Babylonians. The Romans. The Greeks. The Ancient Egyptians. The Nazis.

Where are they Now? I don’t know. But we never see them anymore.

The Jews are Here.

Putin recently met with the chief Rabbi of Israel – Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef. He asked a chief rabbi that question – “Why did many great civilizations perish and the Jews remained?”

Putin answered himself – “I’ll tell you. You remained because of the merit of Rabbis and the Torah that you follow.”

Jews have the Torah.

Mark Twain asked the same question in his famous Harpers Row Essay on the Jews:

“What is the secret of the eternity of the Jews?”

He left it unanswered in his essay. But Putin Was right. He got the Answer.

This answers the question – but what can we learn from it?

Survival Based upon Torah

One very important point is that on a worldwide level, national level, family level, and individual level – survival is based upon Torah.

Let’s explain. “And you shall delve in it [the Torah] day and night.” (Yehoshua / Joshua 1:8). One explanation says that if it were not for Torah – G-d wouldn’t have created the world. The world exists because of the constant Torah learning of the Jews. If they were to stop – G-d forbid – one moment – the world would return to Toho Vavohu – chaos.

The Nation’s survival depends upon Torah. When the Jews transgressed the Torah – by commiting the three cardinal sins – idolatry, bloodshed and immorality – in the first temple time – that caused the destruction of the first Temple. In the second temple – it was gratuitous hatred that caused its destruction.

A family’s survival depends upon a Torah education. Assimilation among Jews that never had a Jewish education is rampant. 70% of them intermarry – breaking their chain of descendancy of Judaism from their family. They lose their Jewish legacy.

On a personal level – without Torah – a person gets involved with many vanities and many a time – loses their life in the pursuit of materialism and loses their sight from their goal and purpose in life – to do good for the world. Even if they achieve goodness – it is likely they could have ahieved more – had they learned and observed Torah. I learned most of the above thorugh experience, thought and study of history and statistics.

Lesson Two – Hatred is a Waste of Time

For one thing – a person who hates the Jews – will learn that hatred amounts to nothing more than a waste of time. It is true they will be able to vent their emotions of hate, but what will the gain in the end? Nothing. Did they become a better person for their hate? Did they improve the world? No. Hatred does in a sense serve the Jews – because it cause the Jews to be more united. But the hater will be punished.

There is a story of Nero, the Ceasar.

The Roman authorities then sent Nero Caesar against the Jews. When he came to Jerusalem, he wished to test his fate. He wanted to battle against Jerusalem. He Shot to the east – the Arrow turned and flew into Jerusalem. He Shot to the west – the Arrow turned and flew into Jerusalem. He Shot behind him – the Arrow turned and flew into Jerusalem. He shot an arrow in all four directions and they all fell towards Jerusalem – it flew into the Jerusalem. He saw that the person that would battle Jerusalem would have success. G-d for some reason wanted its downfall.

Nero then conducted another test: He said to a child: Tell me the verse that you learned today. He said to him as follows: “And I will lay My vengeance upon Edom by the hand of My people Israel” (Ezekiel 25:14). Nero said: The Holy One, Blessed be He, wishes to destroy His Temple, and He wishes to wipe his hands with that man, i.e., with me. The Romans are associated with Edom, the descendants of Esau. If I continue on this mission, I will eventually be punished for having served as God’s agent to bring about the destruction. So he fled and became a convert, and ultimately Rabbi Meir descended from him.
Talmud: Gittin 56a

A Child thrashes and moves when changing their diaper. But a simple solution is to give them a toy to play with while you change them. Many use this method. The Nazis used it occupy the Germans – give them something elso to think about so they won’t think about the economy.

Too bad for them. Look at Spain – they drove away the Jews and persecuted them- it lost economically and its status as a world power.

But that is not the main point – haters will hate – because they want to hate.

Learning to Love

Jews can learn not to hate their brothers – if they recognize that the evil inclination is also using the same tactic. The evil inclination inside every person – tells us to focus on hating our fellow. So we hate and waste our time. We waste our potential. We waste our lives hating instead of having loving, productive relations with the people we once loved but now we hate.

What causes hate – because we listen to our emotions. We silence our reasoning and give the reigns of our body, thoughts and words to our angry heart.

G-d wants us to love our fellow Jew. The foundation of the Torah is to “Love Your fellow like yourself.” Like the story of Hillel and the gentile who came to him to convert. He wanted to learn the entire Torah “standing on one
foot.” Hillel said the whole Torah is “What ever is hateful to you, do not do to others.” Rabbi Akiva said – “Love Your fellow like yourself.”

If that is the FOUNDATION of the entire Torah – apparently we should make greater efforts to promote love and peace – not discention and hatred. We shoulf speak words of kindness – not Lashon HaRah.

Let us let go of our hatred for the greater good of following Hash-m’s will.

Saying Sorry – Making Peace Whether You Are Right or Wrong

I’m Sorry

Two words. But often so difficult to say. I want to be right. If I am right why should I say sorry.

I think “I apologize” might be a bit easier to say. Why? Apparently, the word “apologize” is less comprehensible by others – so it feels as if I’m not admitting my guilt as much.

Whatever you like “I’m sorry” or “I apologize” – they are words we should practice to make peace between our fellows.

G-d wants Peace

Just like parents want peace between siblings, G-d wants peace between our brothers – our fellow Jews.

Ok. Inside I have no desire to make peace with this person that insulted me or took money from me or embarrassed me.  It is his fault not mine.

Asking Others to Explain Wrongdoing

The Torah says – if someone wronged you – so go up to them and in a private conversation – say “Dan, I was really hurt by your firing me, can you justify your actions – I want to be on good terms.” Talk it out. At times you only play the movie of the negative action in your head, but perhaps he or she did what you would have done if you were in their shoes.

Or remember that everything comes from G-d / Hash-m. If someone fired you, this person was just the messenger. G-d really decided that that person was to lose their job for a positive purpose. Now in your new position and see if it was worthwhile being fired – you found a better job, didn’t you? And even if you didn’t one day you will be able to see the good in that difficulty.

Taking Load off Your Heart

I read somewhere that a person was angry with another person because he embarrassed him when he was Bar Mitzvah’ed. His hatred spread to hating all people similar to the one who embarrassed him. He lived his life with a grudge in his heart because he generalized his hatred. He lived with hatred, instead of peace. I’m sure if he would have went up to the person who embarrassed him, that person would have apologized or at least explained his actions. Better to live with peace than hatred.

Good Blood

Hatred is not good for the soul or the health. Gratuitous hatred may cause a person stress or, G-d forbid, even illness. In French when someone has hatred – we call it “Se faire de Mauvais Sang” – literally “to make bad blood.” The English term is also used. Having Hatred causes bad blood. Make peace and have good blood.

All said and good. But I don’t feel like making peace.

The Emotions that Impede Peace

OK. I don’t feel like searching for a new Job, but I have to feed my family. G-d wants me to have peace with my fellow, so I have to be bold and overcome my reticence and do it. Just get over with it.

A person should apologize to someone they had a tiff with in any cast e. (This is providing that the person is angry because of a tiff. If a person hated because you exist – like many anti-semites – you cannot make peace with them because there is no solution to removing their hatred.)

Saying Sorry in Any Case

If you had a tiff with someone and you are right it is much easier to say I’m sorry. My sorry is because I want to make peace. There is always a reason to apologize even if you were right, because you may have said some hurting words. If I was wrong, I should say sorry because I did something wrong.

What you might think is nothing major to you, may be major to someone else. Someone I heard was upset because their friend did not send them a birthday card. I sometimes forget my birthday. But others think it is important that you think of them.

Live a healthier life. Live a peaceful life. Remove Hatred from your heart.

Dealing With the Angry Man – What’s Your Next Move?

Put on your gloves. You have an angry man that you must disengage.

Remember the board game Operation. You had to remove items from a man’s body. If your tweezers touched his body – you got a buzz and his nose lit up.

Kind of like the angry guy. You go a bit out his comfort zone and there goes the buzz of his words and his nose flares with anger.

It’s not me it’s him right?

The Relationship between anger and the nose

A side point – interesting that the word for “nose” in Hebrew as the same as “anger” in Hebrew – “af”. I saw an article once that certain aromas of chemicals one emits in a certain emotional state can transmit an emotion to another person. Meaning if a person is angry, another person who smells them with their nose can be influenced also to become angry.

The Proper Reaction against anger

The Jewish people are called the people of the book. Not only because they read books – mainly Torah – but many live by the word of the Torah. A once popular show on private detectives – one detective would determine his next move based upon actors in certain shows he had seen. An observant Jew learns his next move based upon the deeds of great Torah observant people of the generation or in the Torah.

So what does the Torah propose as a “next move” or reaction to an angry person?

Someone recently got angry at me. I learned that the way to react was not the way I did with him. But at least I figured out what’s a good move for the next outburst. Learn from my experience.

The Torah says in Pirkei Avot / Ethics of the Fathers (4:18) regarding Acting with Tact:

Rabbi Shimo’n son of Ela’zar says: Do not appease your fellow at the time of his anger. And do not console him at the time that his dead lies before him; And do not question him [ie, his intentions] at the hour of his vows & don’t make effort to see him at the time of his degradation.

Don’t appease him at the time of his anger. Meaning don’t try to calm him down. Meaning – your attempt at calming him may have the opposite effect of your intention. Meaning you trying to calm him down might get him more angry. So now what can you do? Remain silent. His or her ranting and raving should prompt you to think what’s the best reaction? and your answer should be silence.

(This applies, obviously, if the person is not violent. If the person is violent – you might want to choose flight rather than fight.)

The Fortiori Argument / Kal VaHomer

In Torah there is a logical construct called the Fortiori argument – it goes something like this:

If an average person can lift up this coffee table – surely the body-builder can pick up this coffee table.

Using that principle – don’t appease your fellow at the time of his anger – thus even more so – should you not instigate him at that point. You will just make him more angry. Your objective is to get a point across – do it in a calm, private moment together – not when the person is about to burst.

You have two kinds of angry people – a person who has a bad temper but deep down is good. And a person with a bad temper whose nature is evil. Avoid the latter. Be patient with the first. If the first person is truly good, he will apologize after his outburst – if you don’t respond in kind. If you respond with anger – you will have nullified his feeling of guilt. He’ll think – I got angry – you got angry – why apologize? But if only one gets angry – the calm person has the upper hand.

King Solomon’s Advice

Shlomo Hamelekh / King Solomon – the wisest man – “A Soft Answer turns away Wrath.” (Mishlei / Proverbs 15:1) So – apparently – a soft answer is better than an all out yelling match. Don’t you think?

Remove the Hatred from Your Heart – The Secrets of Yosef

Last week’s Parasha – VaYigash – we have the momentous meeting between the two kings. Yosef (known as Tzafenat Paneach – revealer of Secrets) was the Viceroy of Egypt. Yehuda was the king among the tribes.

In Miketz (the week before’s Parasha / Torah Reading) – Yosef planted his Silver “magical” goblet in the sack of Binyamin. Yosef (who the brothers did not recognize) said he would take Binyamin as a slave as a punishment for stealing. His purpose was to see if the other brother’s would defend Binyamin – Yosef’s maternal brother – thereby showing their regret of selling Yosef. Yehuda comes and defends Binyamin and offers himself as a slave instead. He was prepared to kill or be killed. He did a sincere teshuva (repentance) for selling his brother Yosef.

Afterwards Yosef reveals himself to the brothers. They are afraid, but he bears no grudge against them for having sold him.

How is this possible – one might ask – for him not to have a grudge or harbor hatred against his brothers for having treated him with cruelty?

Three answers are:

  1. Belief that all comes from Hash-m / G-d & Hash-m does all for the best. Anything that a person does for or against you is for your ultimate good. They are just an agent.

We saw Yosef’s tremendous trust and belief in Hash-m when Pharaoh took him out of prison to interpret his dream. Pharaoh says to Yosef “I heard You are a great dream interpreter.” Yosef answers “Without Me” – ie, it has nothing to do with me “G-d will answer Pharaoh’s dreams.” Yosef’s complete belief in Hash-m’s providence – allowed him to understand that the actions of the brothers was directed by G-d – for Yosef’s ultimate benefit. The brothers who sold Yosef were only G-d’s agents. If it was not them – someone else would have sold him. Thus that helped him remove the hatred for his brothers from his heart.

Yosef also mentions this point when, after he revealed himself to the brothers, he says do not be angry at yourselves for having sold me – it was all directed by G-d to allow me to feed you during the years of famine.

2. Look at the other’s pain

People experience sufferings. We look at people who did badly to us as wicked – but they also have pain. Perhaps they acted in a certain way because they were in pain. Perhaps that Cashier lashed out at you because her boss lashed out at him a couple minutes before.

When Yosef met his brother Binyamin – he hugged him and cried on his neck(s). Rashi explains Yosef saw with “Holy Foresight” that the two Temples that were to stand in the portion of Israel of the Tribe of Binyamin (Jerusalem & Environs) were going to be destroyed because of Gratuitous Hatred. He thus cried for the pain of Binyamin. Feeling another’s pain makes it harder to hate.

3.Look at a person from close

The Parasha starts with VaYigash. “Yehuda Approached.” He approached Yosef not just physically, but emotionally. (see the Ohr HaHaim haKadosh’s commentary there) He tried to make a connection with the person – to understand where he was coming from. At times one stands afar and hates from afar. We don’t understand their trials, their tribulations, their point of view. By doing this Yehuda and Yosef was able to overcome hatred.