Rabbi Yehuda began by saying: "Cease [contact]from a man whose breath be in his nostrils ". (Isaiah 2:22) [What kind of person is this verse referring to; doesn't every man breathe?] Here, G‑d has commanded man and cautions him to guard himself from those people who have turned from a good way to an evil way, and defile themselves with the impurity of the Other Side.

When G‑d created man, He made him in the Supernal Image and blew into him a divine soul combined of three, as we have established, Nefesh, Ruach, Neshama. And Neshama is the highest of all of them, for it is a supernal force with which to know and to keep the commandments of G‑d.

If one brings the sacred Neshama into worship of another [worship, i.e. the Other Side], he defiles it [his Neshama] and leaves the service of his Master. For these three forces are all one — Nefesh, Ruach and Neshama — together in partnership. And they are [joined together and considered as] one, as in the supernal secret.

(On this is said: "He that walks with wise men shall be wise…" (Proverbs 13:20)) If we see a man that has all these levels, and still we do not know clearly what he is [if his soul is established in him to do good or evil], how can we determine whether to approach that man or avoid him? In his true anger, one could know and recognize him for what he is. If he guards the holy Neshama in his anger, so as not to uproot it from its place and bring a foreign god to replace it, then he is a proper man. Such is a servant of his Master; such is a whole man.

If that man does not guard it but uproots this supernal Holiness and causes the Other Side to dwell in its place, assuredly such a man has rebelled against his Master. It is forbidden to come near him or join him. Such a one "tears himself in his anger". (Job 18:4) He tears and uproots his soul because of his anger and causes a foreign god to dwell within him. In reference to him, it is written: "Cease from man, though his breath be in his nostrils", (Isaiah 2:22) meaning that he tears his holy Neshama and defiles it in his anger, exchanging his Neshama in his anger [for an impure spirit]. "For in what [in Hebrew, 'bameh']is he to be accounted of", means that man is considered [as if he build a Bamah/altar to other gods].

Whoever joins him and whoever speaks with him, is as though he actually joins with idolatry. What is the reason? Because actual idolatry dwells within him. Moreover, he has uprooted the supernal Holiness from its place and caused idolatry to dwell instead, a strange god. As it is written of a strange god: "Turn not to idols"; (Lev. 19:4) it is similarly forbidden to look at the face [of one who is angry].

You may ask: But what about the anger of Sages? The anger of Sages is good from every aspect, for we have learned that the Torah is fire and the Torah causes him to seethe, as it is written: "'Is not My word like a fire,' says G‑d"? (Jeremiah 23:29)

BeRahamim LeHayyim: Why did the Ari and Chida include this section? What do they want us to learn?

Anger, it is said, can be a teacher of holiness for us. For it instructs us on just what we need to learn on how to understand ourselves better in the moment. Above we learned how our various soul levels work together. Yet all of our "spirituality" can vanish in a moment if we light an idolatrous fire by getting angry.

I was taught by Rabbi Laibl Wolf that G‑d is never referred to in the Scriptures as having "Ka'as"--the type of anger that we suffer from. We need to approach anger gently, as a tool to learn about ourselves, and certainly not to inflict on others.

What does the above mean to you, and why is it revealed now?

Bracketed annotations from Metok Midevash and Sulam commentaries
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