[In the previous selection, the danger of anger was discussed, that it causes a substitution of an impure spirit for his own soul. But what of the anger of the wise, that comes from the side of good?] The anger of sages is in the words of Torah [and it is the fire of the Torah]. The anger of sages is to give honor to the Torah, and it is all in the service of G‑d. Therefore, it says, "the L-rd your G‑d is a consuming fire, a jealous G‑d". (Deut. 4:24)

But if [his anger] is for other matters, then it is not the service of G‑d. Of all the sins that a person commits, none are actual idol worship like this one. It is forbidden [even] to approach him. If you say that he only temporarily that it [his soul] departed but afterwards returned [to him], it is not so! Since once he has uprooted the Holiness of his soul from himself and from its place and that strange god appropriated that place, it strengthens itself there and does not leave him. The only exception is when that person becomes entirely purified and has uprooted it from himself forever, and afterwards endeavors to become holy and to draw Holiness upon himself, hopefully he will become holy. Rabbi Yosi said to him: He surely becomes holy.

He said to him: Come and see: At the moment he uproots the Holiness of his soul and in its place dwells that strange god that is called 'impure', the person becomes defiled and he defiles whoever approaches him. That Holiness is uprooted from him, and when it has been uprooted once, as many [good deeds] he may do, it will not yet return to its place [completely].

He said to him: Yet there are many defiled people who are purified? He said to him: Other impurities are different, for they cannot do more [than defile his body alone, for his soul flees from him when he sins]. But this [sin of anger] is different from them all, for his whole body becomes defiled inside and out, and he contaminates his soul and everything else. Other impurities in the world only defile the body on the outside. Therefore, it is written: "Cease from man, though his breath be in his nostrils" [The underlined is a metaphor for anger - Ed.] for he exchanged his anger in place of the Holiness of his Master. Such an impurity defiles everything, "For in what [in Hebrew, 'bameh'] is he to be accounted of," he is certainly considered an altar [in Hebrew, 'bamah'] for idol worship.

BeRahamim LeHayyim: Wow. That is a very heavy lesson on anger. Does that mean that every time we lose our patience, we are for all sakes and purposes serving idolatrous gods? According to the above Zohar, the answer is simply "yes." That means no venting, no suppression, no sublimation, no repression. When we light a fire, we light a fire. And with that fire we become a Bamah/altar for idol worship. But anger too — in the words of our teacher R. Zelig Plishkin — can be "our inner teacher", when not used against our fellow.

When we sense the fire ignited, to stop, look, and listen...that is the greatest service we could offer to G‑d in that mindful moment. What we next do depends on our level. May it be G‑d's will that we all find our inner answers to all our inner questions on this matter.

What does the above mean to you, and why is it revealed to you now? (See Anger Remedy No. 1 for more on this subject.)

Bracketed annotations from Metok Midevash and Sulam commentaries
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