In this new writing venture of mine, I have also been publishing these thoughts on the Forums that I frequent. Therefore, people will comment and the discussions may continue on other tangents.
One forum poster posted a whole diatribe, ranting against the idea of religion and G-d and ending every sentence with a putdown such as "you smug ignoramus;" or "I have little patience with self infatuated twerps like you," (just to mention those that I feel comfortable publishing without being profane).
My response, like all of my writing, is not necessarily original to me. It is partially derived from Torah.org, where I know that I can Google a Torah idea and it will come up with a wonderful drasha.
At the end of Bereishis (Genesis), Yaakov; Israel, blesses his sons. When he gets to Shimon and Levi, he says:
Shimon and Levi are brothers -- instruments of violence are their weapons. My soul should not come into their secret meetings; my glory should not be united into their assembly, for in their anger they killed a man ... (Bereishis 49:5)
Rashi, one of our great Commentators on the Torah, says that this means: " 'In their anger they killed a man' - This refers to Chamor and the people of Shechem ..."
Now, Shimon and Levi are two of the 12 Tribes of Israel. They are considered "Great Men," as are all of the Children of Israel. Moshe Rabbeinu (Moses, Our Teacher) and Aaron, his brother, are of the Tribe of Levi.
Yet, on his deathbed, Yaakov curses their anger. He does not, G-d forbid, curse Shimon and Levi. He curses their anger.
There's nothing like a little anger to make one lose one's perspective. And, in the case of Shimon and Levi, do what Yaakov decided not to do and take physical revenge for the violation of their sister, Dinah.
(When Israel settled in Shechem, Chamor, the son of the local Chieftan, raped Dinah, Yaakov's daughter. After pretending to accept the idea of Chamor marrying Dinah, Shimon and Levi killed all of the male inhabitants of Shechem.)
There is a special prayer that anyone can say at the end of the Shemonah Esrei (the Silent Amidah or Prayer; The Eighteen Blessings):
"It should be Your will, G-d, G-d of our Forefathers, that no person should be jealous of me, and that I should not be jealous of others; that I should not be angry today, nor anger You ..."
The Torah tells us that Anger is one of the most negative traits a person can possibly have.
It is a blessing for someone to be good-natured and patient.
"Someone who tears his clothing in anger, or breaks something in anger, or throws his money in anger, will be in Your eyes like one who worshipped idols, because that is the trade of the yetzer hara [evil urge] ..."(Talmud; Tractate Shabbos 105b)
And, the question one could ask is: what does idol worship have have to do with anger?
A person who is angry places himself at the Center of the Universe.
A person who is angry rejects Hashgacha Protis - Divine Providence.
Hashgacha Protis, is the idea that G-d is behind EVERYTHING.
When there is an incident that drives us to anger, G-d is sending us a message.
A person who denies this believes that he has been personally affronted by... whatever it is - even inanimate objects!
Think of this. We live in an upside down world where anger makes ordinary and, often good, decent, extraordinary people become enraged because they believe that either some random occurrence or deliberate provocation on the part of another person has violated their sense of Who They Are!
"Don't You Know Who I Am!!" is the cry of a person who puts him or herself at the Center of the Universe.
It is the cry of a person who, at least for a moment, refuses to believe that G-d runs the World; that G-d is constantly sending messages on how we are supposed to act; supposed to feel; and supposed to behave.
How often might someone tell an angry person to be calm; to relax; to not get so angry.
And, that angry person says: "Don't tell me not to get angry! I deserve to be angry! Did you see what that *&%/#!_________(dog; car; person; flower; aardvark; cloud formation; color pattern...) DID TO ME? I HAVE A RIGHT TO BE ANGRY!"
("I have a Right to scream until my throat is sore; tense my muscles until they hurt; get a stomach ache; hit things and hurt myself; kick things and break my possessions.")
Most ordinary individuals today, be they religious or not, would find the idea of genuine idol worship absurd.
Yet, giving in to anger puts us, at best, on the same level as those who worship stones and mud and, at worse, on the same level as an animal; as the local raccoon.
The Talmud also tells us that "anger leads to sin" (Berachos 29b); and that loshon hara (evil speech) is often spoken only out of anger.
"Anger can lead to a loss of wisdom." (Pesachim 66b)
"One who constantly gets angry and doesn't control his temper is like one who is not alive." (Pesachim 113b)
Yaakov "blessed" Shimon and Levi by recalling their anger so many years after the incident of Shechem.
Yaakov's words weren't simply a blessing, and a warning, to Shimon and Levi, but for all of us.
Life is Beautiful All the Time.