Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher, Dean of Students and Senior Lecturer at Diaspora Yeshiva, is not only a popular speaker and teacher, but also a dynamic thinker and writer. A student of Harav Yaakov Kamenetsky and Harav Gedalia Schorr, Rabbi Sprecher was granted smicha (rabbinical ordination) by Torah Vodaath Yeshiva. Prior to his current position, Rabbi Sprecher was a professor of Judaic studies at Touro College in New York. In addition to his duties at Diaspora Yeshiva, Rabbi Sprecher writes a regular column on various Judaic topics in the Jewish Press, and lectures regularly at the OU Israel Center in Jerusalem.
Anger - Hell on earth
Published: Tuesday, June 12, 2018 08:22:47 PM
Number of views: 1741

King David states in Tehillim 30, “G-d, You have raised up my soul from SHEOL”. Radak translates the word SHEOL as “hell”.

But King David was still alive when he said this verse. So how could he speak as if he had already descended to hell which is a place of punishment for sinners only after death? From this statement we learn that one can suffer in purgatory even while still alive!

As the Talmud (Nedarim 22) teaches, “Whoever rages in anger is subjected to all types of Gehinnom”. The fiery flames of frustration, anguish, sadness, and rage, which smolder within the heart of the depressed person are the equivalent according to the Talmud, to the fires of Gehinnom.

Is there a magic formula to control and manage our anger?

The Talmud in Shabbat 105 and Nedarim 22 state, "when one becomes angry, it is as if he is serving idols". This seems to be a very extreme and exaggerated statement. How can the Talmud compare anger to the worst sin of idolatry?

Upon deep reflection, we can perceive a connection. What really causes anger? When things don’t go my way, when my plans don’t work out, I get angry. The world is not conforming to my vision of perfection

However, since G-D is running and controlling all events, getting angry is like saying that my version of the world is better than His! A person in the heat of anger thinks, "If I were running the world, I wouldn't have all these problems and troubles". The angry person also thinks, "If I was in charge of the world, I wouldn’t be messing things up the way G-D is". This angry reaction is a subtle form of idol worship. I am enthroning my intellect and ego and paying homage to them.

Now, of course, not everyone who gets angry consciously realizes these blasphemous thoughts. However, the point is that constant awareness of the Unity of G-D is the best antidote for anger, as well as other negative psychological problems.

Thus, Judaism is summed up and best expressed in the SHEMA. "Hear, Israel, Hashem (which means the All Merciful) ELOKEINU (our Strict Judge), Hashem is One (it is all an aspect of His Mercy)". Even when G-D acts as ELOKEINU (our Strict Judge), it is really "tough love", which is love all the same.

Tehillim 16 states, "I have placed G-D in front of me at all times". The Baal Shem Tov explains that the Hebrew word, "SHIVITI" (I have placed) comes from the root SHA'VEH, which means equal. Thus, the Baal Shem Tov translated this verse as, "All things are equal to me when I am aware and conscious of G-D".

When one remembers that all events, good and bad, come from G-D, then one accepts all things with equanimity. As the Baal Shem Tov said about himself, "Whether people praise me or humiliate and embarrass me, it is all equal, because it all comes from G-D!".

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