Daf Yomi Nedarim 22
Poor Shloima and Shprintza. They barely had enough food to feed their twelve children let alone money for clothing and other expenses. But Sukkos was around the corner, and how could Shloima go through the festival without a lulav and esrog? Letting nothing deter him, he grabbed the only item of value in the house – a pair of tefillin that were a family heirloom. They had been in the family for hundreds of years; his grandfather believed they may have been written by Ezra the Scribe!
Shloima took the tefillin, sold them, and bought the most beautiful esrog you have ever laid eyes on. He carried it home exuberantly, almost flying with each step.
But as soon as he stepped foot in the house, Shprintza glared at him, “Where did you get that esrog? We have no gelt!”
“I sold the tefillin,” he whispered timidly.
“You what?!?” she screamed as she snatched the esrog from his hands and threw it to the floor. Shloima looked down and sadly, the pitom (top) had broken off, invalidating its use for the mitzvah.
In a valiant demonstration of his simple faith, Shloima raised his eyes to Heaven and prayed, “Hashem, I no longer have my tefillin. Hashem, I no longer have my esrog. Hashem, please grant me the fortitude to stay calm right now and at least keep my shalom bayis (domestic peace).”
Rabbi Shmuel bar Nachmeini taught: Whoever gets angry becomes controlled by all forms of Gehinnom. Moreover, he becomes prone to hemorrhoids.
Rabbah bar Rav Huna taught: Whoever gets angry indicates that the Shechina (Divine presence) is unimportant to him.
Rabbi Yirmiya of Difti says: He forgets his Torah learning and becomes foolish.
Rav Nachman bar Yitzchak says: He demonstrates that his sins are more numerous than his merits.
Rabbi Paysach Krohn maintains that the esrog story never happened. In his opinion, there’s nobody in this world who exemplifies such self-restraint. Nevertheless, the story is an important lesson on the lengths we must strive to go to maintain our composure and manage our anger.
If you were to stop for a moment and remember that getting angry is a form of Gehinnom boiling over or that you are demonstrating that G-d’s presence is unimportant to you, you would immediately back off. Suddenly, you acknowledge that whatever has happened that has made you upset has emanated from the Divine. If you get angry, you might as well be angry at G-d for causing whatever it is that you are upset about.
What’s more, if you’re not accepting the Divine will, what’s all your Torah learning worth? And so Rabbi Yirmiya cautions you to keep your Torah learning in mind and not to overreact foolishly. And ultimately, if you can’t control yourself, says Rav Nachman, clearly you’re more sinful than meritorious, because people with merit have self-control and discipline. Sin is an indication of a lack of control.
Controlling your temper and all of your emotions isn’t easy. Ultimately, it’s why you’re here on earth – to master your heart’s desires and temerity. May you merit constant control of your emotions and management of your temper and never fall prey to the impulsivities of your heart!