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Shabbat Parashat Tetzaveh| 5771

Ein Ayah: Different Types of Good Anger

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Berachot 6:21)

Gemara: [Two students of Bar Kapara were sitting before him when foods were brought before them. It was a complicated halachic question as to upon which food one should make the beracha and eat first. One “jumped up” first to make the beracha on meat.] His friend laughed scornfully at him. Rav Kapara became angry and said: “It is not at the one who made the beracha I am angry but at the one who laughed. If your friend appears as one who has never tasted meat before, why do you laugh at him?” Subsequently he said: “It is not at the one who laughed I am angry but at the one who made the beracha. If wisdom is not here, is there not advanced age here?” [Rashi- Am I (Bar Kapara) not old? You should have asked me on which one to make the beracha first.]


Ein Ayah: Anger can exist in two different ways. Anger can be found even in the heart of one who has perfect personal attributes. This is because some things that are immoral in different ways should make one naturally angry. There is also “anger of the face,” about which it is said: “an angry countenance will do good for the heart” (Kohelet 7:3). In the latter case, one decides to be angry, because that is what is appropriate in order to fix a certain behavior, even though naturally he does not feel any anger.

If the anger is one which is so appropriate that no bad attributes can be developed by reacting negatively to the bad act, then it is proper that the anger be in the heart as well as in the face. Such anger is a matter of completeness, as he is unable to stand by calmly as immorality is perpetrated. There are other times, though, when despite the positive purpose for being angry, one who reacts with emotional anger could have it spill over beyond the point it should for one of ideal personality. Then it is proper to show anger only out of choice but not feel it internally.

When one sees an affront being perpetrated against someone else, whether it is to a friend or a student, it is appropriate to allow the natural anger to be felt. However, if a scholar has to assert his authority and uphold his honor that has been slighted, it is a different story. Seeking honor for oneself and feeling slighted when he is not treated respectfully are not essentially good traits. Although at times it may be necessary for a scholar to stand up for his own honor to teach others how they are supposed to behave, it is still not good for the anger in that case to be natural but to be deliberate and external. In that way it does not contradict the mandate to be “very, very humble” (Avot 4:4).

Thus, the different manifestations of Bar Kapara’s anger were raised separately. First he said that he was not angry at the one who made the beracha, referring to a natural anger, which Bar Kapara reserved for the one who laughed. Then he said that on the level of deliberate anger, he was angry specifically at the one who made the beracha, as logically there was what to be angry about, for he should have consulted with his rav on the matter of the proper beracha procedure. He said, “if there is not wisdom” to indicate that if he [Bar Kapara] had enough wisdom, it could have caused natural anger, as the pasuk says that “with great wisdom comes great anger” (Kohelet 1:18) and “a Torah scholar who gets angry, it is his Torah that is burning in him” (Ta’anit 4a). Rather Bar Kapara said that he was old so that he had calmed to the point that his anger was one of choice, because it was appropriate at the time.



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