12 Cheshvan 5782 / Monday, October 18, 2021 | Torah Reading: Vayeira
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Exploring the Main Causes of Anger    

Exploring the Main Causes of Anger

"So be it," responds Zachary. "Know full well, young stag, that this race bears the legal ramifications of a fight to the death. You have...


We are exploring the two main causes of anger: arrogance and lack of spiritual awareness.  We now continue with our story of the Prancing Buck:
* * *
"So be it," responds Zachary. "Know full well, young stag, that this race bears the legal ramifications of a fight to the death. You have made a public challenge before tens of witnesses. By deer law and tradition, the loser must leave the vicinity of Mount Patience and the surrounding valleys, and remain an exile for the rest of his life. I offer you one more chance to withdraw your challenge, young stag, so that a moment of arrogance won't ruin the rest of your life."
Dandy smirks, protrudes his chest, and raises his head, flaunting his antlers in a supercilious gesture of disdain. "The worn out old buck is looking for a way out," he smirks, blinded by an excess of pride and vanity.
Dandy calculates that at his average cruising speed of forty miles per hour, he can traverse the eight-mile course in a mere twelve minutes. Zachary, he calculates, can't possibly reach Beaver Creek in less than fifteen minutes.
"Forget it, Gramps, the race is on. You can console your ancient bones that your exile won't last long. Your days on this earth are numbered. I'm giving you a final chance to step down respectfully. Can you still hear at your age, or should I yell louder? Ha, ha, ha…"
Dandy ignores the code of venison etiquette, even at the time of challenge, making an obvious attempt to further belittle the aged patriarch in front of the clan - a heinous moral crime.
Zachary weathers the insult and embarrassment with no anger whatsoever, and responds calmly in an authoritative voice that conveys phenomenal inner strength and composure: "Prepare, young stag. The observers shall take their posts along the way, and the race shall begin in exactly one hour."
The birds chirp all through the forest, across the valleys, and up the mountain, spreading the news of the imminent race. The entire forest becomes a beehive of activity, as the clan deer take observer positions along the trail. The squirrels, rabbits, and raccoons dart up the trees, jockeying for the best position to watch the race. Hundreds of deer from neighboring clans rush to Zachary's domain. Within three quarters of an hour, the entire eight-mile course is loaded with spectators.
Let me describe the course that Dandy chose, the eight miles between the Deer Haven clearing and Beaver Creek: The entire trail is a steady uphill grade. The trail itself is rather wide for the first mile, then the forest thickens, and the trail narrows to a mere two or three feet. For a dense three-mile stretch where the white oaks, the firs, and the wild holly grow, two animals or two humans can't walk side by side.
A hush descends on the forest. All the birds and animals are holding their breath. Jonathan Buck, one of the most respected deer-clan patriarchs within miles, has just entered the clearing. He is a middle-aged deer, eight years old, with impressive stature. His antlers are short and stubby like Zachary's. Jonathan is one of several visiting dignitaries chosen to officiate the race.
Zachary takes his position to the right of Jonathan. Dandy descends from his stage on the cliff ledge, and positions himself to Jonathan's left. Jonathan reiterates the terms of the challenge, and both the clan king and the challenger nod in agreement. The officiating buck paws the gravel in front of him three times, and then emits a baritone deer call that reverberates for miles - "Ohuuuuuuuuuu!" The race is on!
Dandy leaves the starting line like a ballistic missile, covering the first mile in a record time of one minute and fifteen seconds, the equivalent to forty-eight miles per hour. The onlookers are delighted. Zachary covers the same stretch of ground in two minutes; forty-five seconds slower than the challenger.
Two gray-black crows, the forest bookies, are now cawing out eight-to-one odds in favor of the challenger, while the squirrels run to get their acorns to place their bets. The forest hasn't seen this much excitement in a long time.
The meadow ends, and the trail enters the forest at the beginning of mile two. By mile three, the woods become especially dense, and the trail narrows to a width of a mere two feet. Dandy darts through the first hundred yards of wooded trail, then all of a sudden…
To be continued…
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