Q: I would like to know if there are any references to anger in the Kabbalah. I am familiar with the saying that if one gives oneself to anger it is as if one worships idols. Are there other statements or even Chassidic tales? I have searched but have not found anything.
I have dealt with anger all my life and am concerned about what “sparks” (if that is the correct word) I am throwing here in my life. I am most disheartened at this point in time.
A: Maimonides, in Hilchot Dayot, writes about anger. See an article on our website, called “Infinite Patience,” for a discussion on the character trait of anger and it rectification.
The Sefer Hatanya quotes the Arizal as teaching his students to fast 151 fasts to repent for anger. In our days, when most people are no longer physically capable of extensive fasting, we give charity instead of fasting. (This, of course, does not pertain to the general fast days in the Jewish calendar, but only to “personal” fasts.) The number 151 in Hebrew letters is kuf, nun, hei, equal to G-d’s Name, (Adonai) alef, hei, yud, hei. “Anger,” ka’as in Hebrew, equals 150. The rectification for anger (150), is anger plus 1 (G-d is One,) or 151. Your connection to G-d can help you to rectify anger. It is advisable to give the sum of 151 to charity in dollars or other denomination each time that you become angry.
It is important to remember that G-d loves all of His children, despite their negative traits. The main thing is to continue to strive to rectify these negative traits so that one can become closer to G-d. Sometimes our negative traits can seem overwhelming, and it is easy to become disheartened. At times like these it is important to “endorse” oneself and to thank G-d for any good trait, or small positive act which you accomplish. Any good deed that you do is of infinite importance in the eyes of G-d. Furthermore, any time that you actually manage to overcome anger is a source of joy, also in the eyes of G-d, which should be celebrated. Although these ideas may seem like a small springboard with which to leap over the hurdle of anger, consciously putting them into practice can bring you a sense of serenity and happiness, which in itself will lessen your inner anger.
Wishing you much success and inner peace. Let us know how you are doing.