Message for the Week from Rabbi Stein
Anger Only Hurts Yourself
Rabbi Jay M. Stein on Thursday, March 1, 2018 at 12:00:00 am
Rabbi Yehoshua taught: The begrudging eye, the evil impulse, and hatred of one’s fellow human
being will ruin a person’s life. (Mishna Avot 2:16)
The literal translation of the final phrase of this Mishna, motzi’im et ha’adam min ha’olam, will ruin a person’s life, is “takes a person out of this world.” It is the literal translation that I appreciate. We can become angry, jealous people. We can become discontented and the Mishna says that steals us away from being truly alive. We grow to live in our heads and not in the world.
There are so many obstacles to living our life to its fullest. This Mishna offers a few examples. I often wonder why I respond to certain circumstances better than I do to others. I, like all other people, have triggers. If I can identify those triggers I find I can respond better. I know that when I am tired, my patience runs thin. I know that when I am hungry my temper flairs faster. And although I cannot always get enough sleep or even enough to eat I must realize that is no excuse for poor behavior. And if that is true for physical deprivation, than it must also be true for emotional paucity. Recognizing this, is part of the solution. The problem isthat as we grow so do our triggers and we lose track of our true selves.
Rabbi Yehoshua explains there is much that confuses us and robs us of our joy. There are impulses that distract us from being the people we want to be; that divert us from living the life we want to live. Anger and jealousy are natural responses to certain interactions. But we must fight against those responses, rather,choosing to open our hearts and remain connected to our world and our true selves.