Rebbe Yehuda, analyzing the sacrificial offerings mentioned in this week's Torah portion, compares their purity with the consequences of anger. The connection is that a person who is angry is sacrificing his senses to the blood of his passions. This is a form of idol-worship.

When the Holy One Blessed be He created Man, He made him in the form of the spiritual world. He breathed into him a holy soul made of three parts. Controlling anger with a long breath reasserts the soul…

The Hebrew word for "soul" is neshama; the word for "breath" is "nesheema". This explains why breathing exercises effect the soul. It is also the reason why anger - called "kotzer ruach", or "short breath" - weakens the soul by effecting the breath. Another name for "anger" is "af " which means "nose". Anger is expressed by the snorting of the breath in the nostrils. Controlling anger with a long breath reasserts the soul.

As we have learned, the soul is made up of the Nefesh, Ruach and Neshama. The most spiritual of them is the Neshama, which also has the highest power. The [function of the] Neshama is to learn and keep the commandments of the Holy One Blessed be He. Now, if the holy Neshama enters into other worship [i.e. idolatry/anger], this defiles her, and she is forced from the worship of her Master. This is because these three powers are all one unity. The Nefesh and the Ruach and the Neshama participate together and become as one in a person [because they operate all the bodily activities together]. All this is like the higher secret. The lower is the vehicle for the higher...

Because all three levels act together, when the Neshama is made impure, all three are affected, and the person is completely removed from the worship of the Creator. The higher secrets are the spiritual sources of these three. The Nefesh is from malchut, the Ruach is from the six intermediate sefirot, and the Neshama is from bina. Just as these three spiritual constellations align as one in the service of G‑d, so do their lower counterparts. The lower is the vehicle for the higher, and when it is defiled it causes the break-up of the unity of the higher levels. This in turn provides a foothold for the forces of separation and negativity and allows them to flourish.

And if a person is seen to have these three soul levels [because he learns Torah, is engaged in worshiping his Master and does practical mitzvot] how will one know whether to befriend him? It is while he is actually being angry that you can know a person…

How can it be proved as to whether he has stood up for his existence to know himself [and the workings of these three levels]? It is while he is actually being angry that you can know a person and acquaint yourself with who he really is. If he protects his holy soul at the time when he is angry and doesn't uproot her from her place [in his consciousness] because he is under the control of that foreign deity [his ego and its spiritual idolatrous counterpart], then he is a worthy person. This is a real servant of his Master. This is a complete man.

This sort of person does get angry, but never looses control by saying bad things or acting uncontrollably, which are outer manifestations of inner disunity, that effect all the spiritual levels, as explained.

And if a person doesn't guard her [his Neshama], and he uproots that holiness from its place and causes the Other Side to dwell there instead, he is certainly a person who is a rebel against his Master. It is forbidden to draw near to him or to befriend him.

Once the unity is broken, and the Other Side has control of a person such that his passion rules his mind, his body is empty of holiness and does not return even when his anger abates.

This is the type of person that is described in the verse "Leave alone a person whose breath is in his nostrils; for what is he to be considered worthy?" (Isaiah 2:22). This is because his holy soul has been made maddened and impure because of his anger. He has changed the breathing [in Hebrew, "nesheema"] in his nostrils.

The word for anger in the quoted verse is "apo", which also means "nose". The word for "soul", "Neshama", indicates breathing. The verse therefore hints that holy soul has departed; flaring nostrils are proof of it.

The word "bemah", meaning "what is (…he to be accounted for)" in the quoted verse, also has a double meaning. By changing the vowels the same letters can also be pronounced "bamah", meaning "altar".

"For what is he to be considered worthy?" He is worthy [only] for idol worship [since he has become an altar offering sacrifices to that side]. Actual idolatry dwells within him…

One who becomes a friend with him and one who speaks to him, is like one who connects with actual idolatry. The reason is because actual idolatry dwells within him and he has also uprooted the higher holiness from its place [in him through his anger]. In its place dwells idol worship, and a foreign deity.

Instead of accepting the will of G‑d, the angry person believes that his anger will achieve what he thinks he needs. He is placing his belief in a foreign deity because he wants something outside the situation he is confronted with. This very situation comes from G‑d, and yet he is furious with it! His whole worldview is therefore "d-anger-ous" to a person who believes in Divine Providence and does the will of G‑d.

Just as it says about idol worship: "Do not turn to idols" (Lev. 19:4) [that it is forbidden to gaze upon idols], in the same way it is forbidden to look at the face of an angry person.

Here the message is clear. Do not confront anger in another person - perhaps encourage them to take a deep breath!

In the following table we set out the first three levels of the soul, as explained above, and show where they are rooted in the higher spiritual constellations. Also demonstrated are how they branch out in relation to the emotions and are developed in action from the side of holiness.

Level of sefira Soul Level Translation Experience Activity
bina Neshama breath Vitality of intelligence Learning Torah
six intermediate sefirot Ruach wind or spirit Vitality of emotion Prayer/worship of G‑d
malchut Nefesh created soul Physical vitality Practical mitzvot

The sages teach that if a person is a Torah scholar, his anger causes his wisdom to flee. From the above table you can see that if anger causes the Soul Level to "flee", then the corresponding activity is blemished. So learning flees with the Neshama, a disturbed spirit effects worship, and practical mitzvot are broken - such as not causing embarrassment to others or needlessly breaking articles. The angry person has altered his face/partzuf physically, with flared nostrils and bloodstained eyes. This reflects the change in the higher face/partzuf. It is an added reason not to look into his face/partzuf at that time!

Zohar, Parashat Tetzaveh, pg. 182b; translation and commentary by Simcha-Shmuel Treister

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