Impact of Anger in the Home
Who doesn’t get angry occasionally? It’s a normal human emotion, right? The Kalever Rebbe describes the far-reaching, devastating effects of anger upon our children.
You have been rebelling against the Lord since the day I became acquainted with you. (Devarim 9:22-24)
Anger Denies Hashem’s Presence
We are living during a time when the entire world is permeated with an increasing amount of anger. Tensions at work lead to dismissals. Anger in a marriage leads to divorce. The anger between children and their parents, and between educators and their students is causing an increasing number of children to feel rejected, disconnected, and distant.
All this anger, all of these negative emotions stem from a flaw in emuna, faith, in Hashgachah Pratit, Divine Intervention.
There is a teaching of the Baal Shem Tov (see the Tanya, Iggeret HaKodesh, 25) that explains the teaching of Chazal (Zohar HaKodesh Bereshit 27b) that says if someone is angered, it is as if they transgressed the sin of Avodah Zarah, idol worship. Why is that a fair comparison?
The Baal Shem Tov explained that a person must realize that everything that occurs in his life, every event and detail no matter how seemingly mundane, has buried within it a deeper purpose. And, everything in your life occurs with a very specific intention from Hashem, who is the Cause of all things in this world.
Chazal (Chulin 7b) teaches that a person cannot even lift a finger unless it was ordained in the heavens to happen. When a person who has free choice does something to harm you, he is liable and accountable for that choice, that action, in this world and in the heavenly courts. However, the pain you feel from the loss or damage done to you was something decreed by the Heavens. You deserve that pain. But there are many emissaries of the heavenly courts and this person didn’t have to choose to be the one to introduce that pain into your life. Therefore, he is liable.
This is the reason that someone who becomes angry is compared to an idol worshipper. If you become angry with someone for something they did to you, then you are lacking in the emuna in Hashem’s Divine Intervention; you are denying Hashem’s exacting influence in your life and crediting someone else for having the ability to impact you. That is idol worship: the denial of Hashem’s abilities and presence.
Rather, when you are wronged, you should realize that this is Hashem’s Will and will eventually also be for your good and benefit.
This is the meaning of the Zohar’s teaching (Tzaveh 54a) that a person who isn’t careful to guard himself from anger is like someone who rebels against their master, and the kedushah, holiness, leaves their soul and is replaced with impurity and the Sitra Achra, may Hashem have mercy.
The Impact of Anger
Nowadays, with the emergence of technology, it has become far too easy for people to avoid contemplating spiritual matters. Consequently, they neglect to recognize their emuna. In fact, the opposite has come true. They abandon their spiritual responsibilities and start doubting and even denying Hashem’s Hashgachah Pratit. They begin to believe that everything they accomplish is their own doing, from their own efforts and capabilities. Therefore, when someone wrongs them, they become angry.
Anger can ruin your life, like Chazal teaches in Nedarim (22a) — that anyone who becomes angry all kinds of gehinom (hell) rule over him. Meaning, gehinom rules over everything, including in this world.
Specifically, anger in the home leads to a tremendous loss. Anger between a husband and wife can lead to a divorce which is followed by all kinds of regret and suffering. Lives are ruined, especially when there are children involved.
When teachers or parents become angry with a child, they can destroy him. The child’s potential is never actualized for good. Rather, the child becomes deceitful, connects with the wrong friends, and begins to live a life that is void of Torah and mitzvot and filled with sin.
Chazal warned us about this in Gittin (7a) when they taught us that a person needs to prepare himself before entering the home on Shabbat night, ready to overcome the Yetzer Harah to become angry, and interact with his family calmly and sweetly. As it says in Kohelet (9:17), The words of the wise are heard [when spoken] softly, more than the shout of a ruler of fools.
Shlomo HaMelech taught (Kohelet 7:9) when he wrote, “Be not hasty with your spirit to become wroth, for wrath lies in the bosom of fools”. Only a fool who walks in the dark of his own ignorance will become angry. A wise person knows how damaging anger can be — physically, spiritually, and financially.
The greatest harm is when parents do not teach their children to avoid anger. Even worse is when children constantly see their parents angry. The children will imitate that behavior, becoming angry and insolent to their parents! And, this behavior has destroyed countless children in our times.
Speaking with your parents angrily violates the commandment to respect your parents. The Gemara teaches in Kiddushin (32a) that they asked R’ Eliezer how far one must go in honoring their parents. He answered to the degree that if they witness their father throwing a purse into the sea, they do not embarrass him. The Shulchan Aruch rules (Yoreh De’ah 240:8) that if a child sees his father throw a pouch of gold into the sea, he cannot become upset or angry. Rather, he must remain silent.
The Seforim HaKedoshim explain (Peleh Yoeitz) that when a person speaks to their parents angrily or in haste, they are in the category of “Cursed be he who degrades his father and mother” (Devarim 27:16). This is what Reuven was punished for, as Rashi explains “The restlessness and the haste with which you hastened to display your anger, similar to water which hastens on its course. Therefore…You shall no longer receive all these superior positions that were fit for you…”
The Lesson of Moshe
This is what Moshe is rebuking B’nei Yisroel with when he said, “And at Tav’erah.” Tav’erah can also mean “burning”. When someone is burning with anger inside of them, “you provoked the Lord to anger”.
And as a result of the anger of B’nei Yisroel in their homes: “You have been rebelling against the Lord” – by violating the commandment to honor your parents. “Since the day I became acquainted with you” – from the days of your youth when you were raised in your parent’s home.
Therefore, you must be careful not to allow anger to enter into your home and into your relationships with your family. You need to raise your children in a calm and patient environment. By doing so, you will increase the blessings in your home.
The Kalever Rebbe is the seventh Rebbe of the Kaalov Chasidic dynasty, begun by his ancestor who was born to his previously childless parents after receiving a blessing from the Baal Shem Tov zy”a, and later learned under the Maggid of Mezeritch zt”l. The Rebbe has been involved in outreach for more than 30 years, and writes weekly emails on understanding current issues through the Torah. You can sign up at www.kaalov.org.