12 Cheshvan 5782 / Monday, October 18, 2021 | Torah Reading: Vayeira
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The Toll of Human Anger    

The Toll of Human Anger

Just as a nuclear weapon is far more powerful than a conventional weapon, human anger is much more destructive than animal anger...


We continue with our story of Grouchy Grizzly as we explore how anger can destroy the quality of our lives.
Grouchy Grizzly does damage to the valley, to the bees, to whoever gets on his nerves, and to himself. Let's examine the damages of human anger, which are far more serious. Here's why:
An animal has a basic vital life spirit, which is comparable to a conventional weapon. A human has a holy, Divine soul, from a much higher spiritual level than the animal's basic life spirit, and comparable to a nuclear weapon. Just as a nuclear weapon is far more powerful than a conventional weapon, human anger is much more destructive than animal anger.
Grouchy Grizzly's bad temper causes anguish to everyone he encounters - flora, fauna, or humans. Angry people are the same - they bring pain and suffering to others, especially to those who come in close contact with them, such as family members and colleagues.
As we learned in the previous chapter, the main cause of anger is arrogance. Since arrogant people are self-centered, you won't be able to convince them to change their ways by showing them that they're damaging others - hurting people's feelings, causing them nervous and emotional disorders, and robbing them of their happiness. Angry people are blind to their fellow human.
The angry person, especially on the lower rungs of the spiritual ladder, usually justifies his or her own fiery behavior. Therefore, one of the only methods to encourage anger-prone individuals to mend their ways is to show them the damage they do to themselves. That's the focus of the next portion of this chapter.
The Twelve Self-destructive Damages of Anger
1. Damage to the Soul
The Zohar teaches that anger is worse than almost all other transgressions. Why? When a person performs an evil deed, he tarnishes his Divine soul - the worse the deed, the worse the blemish. Anger, on the other hand, causes the Divine soul to leave the domains of the angry person altogether.
In metaphysics as in physics, there is no vacuum in the world. Therefore, when a person's Divine soul picks up and leaves, an impure soul from the nether spiritual world - what Kabbalists call "the dark side" - enters the person. As such, the angry person severs himself from God and from holiness, and places himself under the regime of evil forces.
A person's good deeds, such as giving charity, assisting other people, and dealing honestly enhance and strengthen the Divine soul. Yet, a moment of unleashed anger can destroy the spiritual gains of months and even years.
Imagine a glass blower that has patiently worked on an exquisite crystal chandelier for three years. If in one quick second, the chandelier is knocked off the worktable, it shatters on the floor in a million pieces. The Divine soul resembles that fine crystal chandelier; a moment of anger is liable to destroy it, too.
A dead body is ritually impure. An angry person is spiritually similar to a dead body, since both are devoid of their Divine souls. Therefore, atoning for anger is more difficult than atoning for other serious misdeeds.
The blemish of an average misdeed is similar to a dent in a new car - a trip to the body shop and a few hundred dollars can have the car looking like new. Prayer, self-evaluation, and a resolution to try harder are usually enough to recompense for an average blemish to the soul. Anger, on the other hand, resembles a car with a blown engine, that either needs a complete overhaul or a new engine altogether.
Correcting the damages of anger is tantamount to revitalizing a dead person. In order to regain the Divine soul, a person must make a major spiritual overhaul.
If you are prone to anger, don't lose heart: Hand in hand, we'll be making that spiritual overhaul in the coming chapters, during the continuation of our journey.
2. Damage to One's Physical Appearance
A person's mood directly affects his or her appearance. A face shines with happiness, or becomes dull and lifeless with sadness. The eyes are the windows of the soul; no mascara or eye shadow can replace the beauty reflected by tranquil eyes and a pure, serene soul. Conversely, no eye makeup in the world can compensate for the repulsive look of angry eyes and an impure soul. Simply speaking, tranquility makes you beautiful and anger does the opposite. Nothing in the world is so magically magnetic like a tranquil smile.
People spend phenomenal sums on new clothes, coiffure, and cosmetics. Yet, with one small tantrum, their efforts are wasted.
Imagine a bridegroom spending a hundred dollars for an exclusive haircut, a thousand dollars on a hand-tailored three-piece suit, three hundred dollars on a chic pair of Italian shoes, eighty dollars for a massage and spa, and four hundred dollars for a rented limousine and uniformed driver. He arrives at the grand ballroom of the local Hilton - the site of his wedding - and loses his temper at one of the waiters. Such a groom looks exactly like Grouchy Grizzly! He could have saved the extravagant expense of grooming himself, for a face contorted with anger is just as repugnant as a bear's countenance.
Even so, any normal bride would gladly prefer a groom in a bear costume to a groom with anger in his eyes.
I once had the unfortunate experience of seeing a bride lose her temper moments before the wedding ceremony. For some inexplicable reason, she became furious at her sister. Hot tears of wrath began slithering down her cheeks, leaving black, telltale rivulets of mascara smears all over her face. The groom almost had heart seizure - he thought that Dracula's daughter was coming down the aisle in his direction.
Nothing improves a person's appearance like a tranquil soul, and nothing destroys a person's appearance like anger and inner turbulence. People spend fortunes on plastic surgery in order to improve their appearance; a bit of genuine tranquility can make a person more attractive than any plastic surgery can. Think of the pain and money saved in the process!
To be continued . . .
(The Trail to Tranquility is available in the Breslev Store.)   


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