Vayishlach 5777

December 11, 2016

8 min read


Vayishlach (Genesis 32:4-36:43 )

GOOD MORNING!  The Shabbat Shalom is available both by email and by fax. One day I received a belligerent message on my voicemail: "Take me off the Shabbat Shalom Fax! I didn't ask for it, I don't want this (expletive deleted) or I'll put the Attorney General on you for unsolicited faxes. You have been warned, guide yourself accordingly." Unfortunately, in his anger, he did not give me the name to remove, the fax number to remove or a number to call if there is a problem. Luckily, I was able to cross-reference the time and date of the call with the Caller ID to find a name and number.

I called the gentleman and asked him if he had left a message to be removed from the Shabbat Shalom Fax. He proceeded to erupt again in a volcanic display of harsh tonal qualities, threats and name-calling. When he calmed down, I told him that I would be delighted to remove him from the distribution list, but I needed his name or fax number to remove him which he had not left in his message. He gave me his name. It was not in the database. I asked for his fax number figuring perhaps there was a data-entry error which mistakenly directed the fax to him. His fax number was not in the database.

I then asked him to please read the very small letters at the very top left side of the page and to let me know who had sent him the fax. He responded, "Oh, look at that. One of my friends sent me a copy of your fax. I wonder why he did that." I wonder if he ever made the connection why his friend sent him the fax and the topic of the fax --"How to Conquer Anger."

The Sages tell us (Talmud, Shabbat 105b) regarding a person who gets angry that it is as if he worshiped idols. What idol is he worshiping? Himself. We get angry because we have expectations that everything must be exactly like we want it. The Orchot Tzadikim (ways of the righteous) -- teaches that a person controlled by anger denies himself happiness in life. An angry person is out of control and at the whim of outside forces!

Let's analyze when we get angry: We trip on something, someone bumps into us; a colleague, spouse or child doesn't listen to us. In the first two cases, something happens that we aren't expecting. In the latter case, it is the frustration of having our will thwarted.

Anger comes from having a fragile ego. We interpret what happens as a direct personal attack. Instead, we should see it as a direct message from the Almighty. We need to look into ourselves as to why this is happening and what we can learn from the situation to improve our character and actions.

There is a place for anger -- the most appropriate place being in the dictionary. Also, if you are physically attacked, anger focuses our response. An angry person may be listened to (if he has the power), but he appears like a meshugenah (a crazy person); will be feared, not loved; endangers his health (through high blood pressure) and is not being maximally effective or enjoying life. If he is trying to rebuke his child or student, they may hear his point, but they will come away with an awful role model on how to handle stress or displeasure. (A parent owes his child three things: example, example, example.) It has been said that raising children by yelling at them is like driving a car by honking the horn. One should appear angry when punishing a child to emphasize the danger of chasing a ball into the street. However, one should not punish a child while he is angry.

Anger can be controlled. Imagine that someone bumps into you very hard; you start to get angry and then you turn around to see that it is a blind man -- or that special person you've always wanted to meet -- or a 6'6" bully. Your perspective immediately changes and you might find that asking, "Did you hurt yourself?" is a more appropriate or judicious response.

Other tips on controlling anger? 1) Realize that anger is counter-productive and commit to not getting angry 2) Appreciate how insane you look when you do get angry (perhaps carry a pocket mirror and refuse to get angry until you take it out to watch yourself!) 3) Set up a fine system and pay someone (preferably someone you don't like) a large fine if you get angry 4) Imagine that you just won the Lottery -- would you still get angry over this trifle? (If you don't get angry, you have just won the Lottery in the battle to control your behavior!) 5) Delay getting angry -- yes, count to 10 -- or leave the room before exploding. 6) If you do get angry, cut it short and be sure to apologize and set yourself to do better in the future. 7) Read Anger: The Inner Teacher -- A Nine-Step Program to Free Yourself from Anger by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin.


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Torah Portion of the week

Vayishlach, Genesis 32:4 - 36:43

On the trip back to Canaan, Jacob meets his brother Esau; Jacob wrestles with the angel. Then they arrive in Shechem; Shechem, the son of Chamor the Hivite, (heir to the town of Shechem) rapes Jacob's daughter, Dina; Dina's brothers, Shimon and Levy, massacre the men of Shechem; Rebecca (Rivka) dies; God gives Jacob an additional name, "Israel," and reaffirms the blessing to Avraham that the land of Canaan (Israel) will be given to his descendants; Rachel dies after giving birth to Benjamin (Binyomin); Jacob's 12 sons are listed; Isaac dies; Esau's lineage is recorded as is that of Seir the Horite; and lastly ... the succession of the Kings of Edom is chronicled.

* * *

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states:

"And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother" (Genesis 32:4).

The Midrash (Breishis Rabbah 75:2) censures Jacob for sending these messengers. Esau had already calmed down about Jacob's taking the blessing from their father Isaac and was involved in his own matters. By sending messengers, Jacob started up with Esau and aroused his anger.

This is a very important principle for two people who were involved in a quarrel: once the matter is past, don't say anything to the other person that would remind him of the matter.

By bringing up the issue when it is not necessary to do so, you will cause a new quarrel that is avoidable. If you were ever in a heated argument with another person and are now getting along peacefully, don't say anything to the effect of, "Remember when you said or did..."

Many people spend numerous hours of their lives engaged in quarrels and arguments about matters that no longer make any practical difference. Arguments should be forgotten, not remembered.



4:1  Ben Zoma would say: Who is the strong person? One who controls his emotions. As is said (Proverbs 16:32), "Better one who is slow to anger than a mighty person and one who masters his passion than one who conquers a city."

4:23  Rabbi Shimon the son of Elazar would say: Do not try to appease your friend while he is angry.

5:14  There are four types of temperaments: One who easily angers and is easily appeased -- his gain is offset by his loss. One who is difficult to anger and difficult to appease -- his loss is offset by his gain. One who is slow to anger and is easily appeased, is pious. One who easily angers and is difficult to appease, is wicked.


Candle Lighting Times

December 16
(or go to

Jerusalem 4:02
Guatemala 5:18 - Hong Kong 5:24 - Honolulu 5:35
J'Burg 6:39 - London 3:34 - Los Angeles 4:28
Melbourne 8:21 - Mexico City 5:44 - Miami 5:15
New York 4:12 - Singapore 6:44 - Toronto 4:24

Quote of the Week

1) Anger is only one letter
short of danger
2) Anger is the only thing
you can't get rid of by losing it



With Deep Appreciation to
Michael & Cec Lehrer
With Great Gratitude to
Ron & June Daniels

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