We are stretching in ahavas yisrael together to create
z’chuyos for K’lal Yisrael in these urgent times.
Last week’s stretch of the week was: Make a point this week to be truly joyful in someone else's success.
Please allow ONE person to share her experience with this exercise for ONE minute.
PIRKAY AVOS--ETHICS OF OUR FATHERS
And Do Not Easily Grow Angry
ואל תהי נוח לכעוס
V’al T’hi Noach Lich’os
Perek Bais, Mishna Tes Vav Part 2
Story: (based on a true story)
We hadn't lived in our new community a full year yet, when the rumor that had begun about me, reached our ears. My husband had returned from shul on Shabbos morning as I was setting the table for lunch.
"Can you take a walk with me," he asked glancing at our children. "We need to talk alone."
I quickly put my oldest in charge of the table, and heading out the door following my husband as he proceeded down the sidewalk, obviously upset. He began to tell me that a friend of his told him that he had the Friday night seuda at our local storekeeper’s table and the storekeeper had asked the people at the table if anyone knew if I was becoming less religious since he had seen me in the store on Friday with clothes that he never imagined I would wear. I was shocked! First off, I hadn't shopped in the kosher store in over a week and secondly, I had not changed the way I dressed at all. I was mortified, livid, and very angry! My husband was bordering on irate! I knew instantly what had happened to cause this man to make his mistake, but to blatantly not check it out quietly, I felt was a horrible mistake on his part. My sister had been in town for a few days to celebrate Chanuka with us. My sister and I look like we could be twins, however, my sister is not religious and therefore doesn't dress the way I do. Now that I'd fully seen how this had all occurred - I was eager to stop the rumor mill before it got even more out of hand. The angry part of me really wanted to storm over to this man's house and scream and yell at him for not giving me the benefit of the doubt and coming to me first if he was so curious about my level of observance! Perhaps he should have inquired kindly if everything was okay with me, maybe do outreach? Or perhaps he should have gone to our Rav! How dare he, I told my husband, ask his guests and put seeds of doubt in their minds and thereby spread lashon hora about me! Oy, it was a mess!
All of a sudden I got very quiet and stopped walking. I knew what I had wanted to do, but instead decided to do what I had to do. I turned around and began heading in the direction of the storekeeper’s house. My husband, who was equally angry if not more, began to get worried and called to me as he tried to catch up with my now hurried pace.
"Tell me what you plan to say first? You don't want to say or do anything rash! Let's think this through..." my husband tried.
"You'll see!" was all I replied, while I calmly practiced my speech in my head.
We arrived at the storekeeper’s door and with my husband behind me, I knocked on the door, he answered and then I began in a very calm voice.
"Hi, good Shabbos!" I said very pleasantly. "You remember me right? I'm Shaina Schoenfeld. I'm so sorry to interrupt your meal," and I poked my head inside the door, glanced at his wife and the guests that were sitting around their dining room table when I said that. Then turning to the storekeeper I continued, "But we were out walking and I wanted to stop by and thank you so much for being so kind to my sister yesterday. Perhaps you remember her? We look exactly alike! Well, almost. She is not up to mitzvah observance yet so we don’t dress the same, but other than that we could be twins! Anyway, you were so kind to her in the store, I just wanted to thank you! She had a good experience shopping here even though she's not religious. In other towns' kosher stores she's had issues, but here it was a good experience. So thank you, and I wanted to wish you and your family a very Happy Chanuka and Good Shabbos!"
The look on his face was priceless. I made sure to peek around him again and wish his wife and guests a Good Shabbos as well before we left. My husband was quite chagrined walking home.
The next day we met with our Rav. He laughed and said there was no need for him to do any damage control of the situation. He felt that what I did would pretty much handle it and he couldn't have done it better himself. I felt on top of the world. I think that if I had done what I initially had wanted to do - scream and yell at this man, it would have made a huge messy production, and I would have felt awful later. Instead I handled it calmly, clearly, and I can tell you now that it's been years later, that we are friendly with both this man and his wife whereas before there'd never been more than a quick "hello" at the store. Oh, and I guarantee that no more tales about me (or probably anyone else) get discussed at his Shabbos table. I think that only good can come out of keeping your head and heart calm, when you want to scream and yell.
"... רבי אליעזר אומר: ואל תהי נוח לכעוס..."
"…Rabi Eliezer omer: v’al t’hi noach lich’os…".
"…Rabi Eliezer says: and do not easily grow angry…"(Perek Bais, Tes Vav).
“Do not rush to anger,” states Shlomo HaMelech, “for the anger of fools rests in the bosom” (Koheles 7:9). Anger is their constant companion, threatening to burst forth at every moment. According to the Chasid Ya’avetz, this verse means that a fool allows his wrath to fester until it erupts with ungovernable rancor.
Anger unsettles a person, causing him to act thoughtlessly and impelling him to aggressive behavior. When a wise man reflects on the fact that human beings are prone to anger, states Rabbainu Yona, he strives to perfect his character, so that even should he grow irate he will successfully moderate his passions.
R’ Levi Yitzchak explained the relationship between this element and the one that follows it: “v’shuv yom echad lifnay misascha”, repent one day before your death. He notes the observation of the Zohar that when one becomes angry his soul temporarily leaves him. If anger is a form of death, it follows that one must repent before getting angry just as the mishna requires us to repent a day before our death. Of course, as part of the process of t’shuva we must learn to control our anger.
(Reproduced from Rav Lau on Pirkei Avos, with permission of the copyright holders, ArtScroll / Mesorah Publications, Ltd.)
Discussion Question Options:
What are situations that make you lose your temper?
What are things you can do to control or hold yourself back from losing your temper?
What are things you can do to diffuse the situation if someone around you loses their temper?
Stretch of the Week:
Make a point to be conscious of when you're about to get mad or angry at something, and try very hard to control yourself to handle it calmly.