Thursday, August 19, 2010



Parshat Ki Tetze, 5770

Rabbi Harold Kushner thinks there’s too much anger in the world*, and I believe him.
He’s not the only one: more and more thinkers, scholars, therapists, and even humble rabbis adopt worried tones when commenting on the anger they’re picking up on out in the world.

These days, we experience most of our anger in a blare: from whichever partisan news channel happens to be on; from whatever political pundit holding forth on the radio; from the almost defiant conversations other people have around us, or that we sometimes have ourselves.

Righteous anger is a good sign in a human being – the ability to be stirred to passion is a blessing. But its perseverance will destroy us all. Anger is the sign of a problem, not its solution.

Rav Kook writes about the phenomenon of persistent anger: “In regards to anger, we must hate it with all the depth of our being. With great anger, but one that is measured and settled, we need to hate spiritual anger, which scrambles the mind…When we see some group or party that speaks always in anger, this is in fact a sign to us that they have no real knowledge, and no content to fill their emptiness, and in fact they are angry at themselves…  (Orot haKodesh)

The surety that we hear in the angry voices around us, especially of those with whom we agree, is illusive. The warmth of anger may seem comforting, but we should not draw too close to the fire that is its source.

*His excellent talk on his new book, Conquering Fear, can be heard on the Big Ideas podcast:

1 comment:

  1. Agreed. Of equal importance, though, Scott, is an excessive, almost naive, idealism that has crept into all shades of discourse.

    I would argue that this is the age of ideology,an era in which we no longer seek to solve problems, but rather to prove ourselves to be right, regardless of the practical outcomes of such a position. Indeed I believe that much of our culture of anger stems from this obsession with the desire to maintain an ideologically pure worldview. I don't know what Torah or the rabbis have to say about that, but I believe it is a very real problem. And I would shout about it were I given my own radio talk show. :)

    Glad to see I am the first of your followers. I hope to get to your shul this fall.