Character Development

When is it Permissible to be Angry?

There is no situation in the world where one is permitted to be angry! There are cases where we can act as if we are angry, but never are we permitted to be angry — even if it concerns a commandment. Even in cases where one has to show anger, such as a father or mother of an errant child who are trying to help him improve, or a teacher who is trying to spur his students to learn well, etc., they are not permitted to get angry unless there is no other means to help their proteges. Even then, their anger should just be for show and not be genuine.

If one has to punish a child or rebuke him, he should not do so out of anger or frustration, because one may not hit children to “calm oneself down”. Since the purpose of punishment is to educate, it can not be doled out in frustration.

It is related about a great Torah scholar that he had a special outfit which helped him check his anger. Every time he wanted to get angry, he would call his attendant to bring him his “anger suit”. After he put it on, if he felt that the need to get angry had passed, well, no problem, he simply took it off and returned the suit to its place.

But if he still felt that anger was warranted, then he acted as if he was angry, which saved himself from feeling forbidden anger.

If one can not set aside a special garment for anger, then before he wants to behave as if he is angry, he should try to say a kind of “L‘shem yichud” prayer of meditation, as is often said before fulfilling a mitzvah. For instance, he should say, “I am ready to show that I am angry for educational purposes, and not because I am really mad. I am doing this for the sake of giving gratification to our Creator and doing His will.”

Anyone who tries to recite this each time before he gets angry, in most cases will discover that he doesn’t have to get angry. In many cases, he’ll realize that he doesn’t even have to show that he’s angry. Nevertheless, if in spite of saying aL’shem Yichud, he finds himself having an angry outburst, he should still keep saying the L’shem Yichud any time he feels himself getting angry. The very fact that he can do something before anger overtakes him, gives him some control over himself. He was able to delay his outburst of anger at least until he had recited some words.

“Review, review and again review!” One who wants to succeed at working on his anger, should review the words written here until he knows them almost by heart, because only then will he remember what to do, and how and when. One should put aside all the lazy excuses, as well as the arrogant attitude that “these things are not for me”. Instead, he should appreciate how much better his life will be without anger, and fight with all his might against this evil trait!

Bear in mind that it is better to invest our energy in the fight against anger, than to invest our energy in getting angry!

Nevertheless, so we can review and remember better all the steps in the battle against anger, we will briefly summarize the main points.

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