Rising above anger

Rabbi Elizabeth Hersh received a B.A. from Skidmore College and was ordained as a Rabbi from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. She is fortunate to be involved in so many facets of the community including serving as the chaplain for JF&CS and an instructor for CAJE. This will be her fifth year serving as the visiting Rabbi in Decatur, Ill. She has also served congregations in both Sydney and Perth, Australia. When not writing her weekly BLOGS, she can be found running marathons.

BY RABBI ELIZABETH HERSH

Society is angry. It is in the air. The economy has redefined how we live. People who remember the Great Depression cannot believe what is happening. Elected officials and candidates build campaigns and careers upon a foundation of anger. Are we worn from a war in Afghanistan? Are we worn out from constant juggling and multitasking?

Everyone has been taught not to speak, write, email or text in a moment of rage. Push that send button and those words are there forever. Our tradition is not an advocate of unleashed anger. Consider that “The angry man’s speech is like the water which overflows from a boiling kettle.”          Does it feel good during the moment of unleashing? How do you feel afterwards? Does the source of your anger really deserve it? Was there a more productive  way of handling the situation?

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During the Torah service we are reminded of God’s nature: “The Eternal One, the Eternal One is merciful and gracious, endlessly patient, loving and true, showing mercy to thousands, forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin and granting pardon.”

These words of Torah teach us at this crucial time of year that we have the potential to rise above ourselves and emulate God for we were created in God’s holy image. It is not about who is right or wrong. It is about the qualities we might have in order to grow into a more complete person. These qualities remind us that God can forgive and love. We, like God, can remove the anger and discontent from our being. We can rise above the baseness humankind finds itself mired in from time to time.