For the week ending 3 January 2015 / 12 Tevet 5775

Yevamot 93 - 99

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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The Danger of Anger

  • Yevamot 96b

The failure of his disciple, Rabbi Elazar, to cite him as the source for an important ruling that he publicly announced caused great anguish to Rabbi Yochanan.

In an effort to calm his anger at what he saw as an inappropriate act by his disciple, a couple of Rabbi Yochanan's other leading disciples reminded him of a tragedy that had resulted from a lack of peaceful relations between the Sages.

It took place in a synagogue in Tiveriah where there was a heated debate concerning some halachic matter. So passionate were Rabbi Elazar and Rabbi Yossi in expounding their conflicting positions that the Sefer Torah from which they were studying became torn as a result of each one pulling it towards himself.

When Rabbi Yossi ben Kisma saw this he prophetically commented that he would not be surprised if that synagogue eventually turned into a house of idol worship. And so it was!

Maharsha explains that this was a vindication of what our Sages say (Nedarim 22b) that "One who becomes angry gives no recognition to the Divine Presence." Once the Divine Presence is thus removed, the path is cleared for idol worship.

It may be suggested that this incident, which dramatically teaches a vital lesson regarding the danger of anger, is also an expression of the oft-quoted equation made by our Sages in the Zohar and midrashim between anger and idol worship.

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