Excessive anger has a harmful effect not only on others, but also on ourselves. The Talmud teaches, "When a person becomes enraged, [even] if he is wise, his wisdom deserts him" (Pesachim 66b). According to the Torah, even Moses acted foolishly when angry. In the Book of Numbers, Moses becomes enraged at the Israelites with their constant whining about water. When G-d tells him to speak to a large rock, from which G-d will send water to satisfy the people's thirst, Moses disobeys G-d's command, and strikes it with a rod, saying, "Listen, you rebels, shall we get water for you out of this rock?" [this verse] Although Moses surely did not intend it, the "we" implied that it was he and his brother Aaron (who was standing beside him), and not G-d, who were responsible for the miracle of the water that gushed fourth. His was a dangerous comment, and could have led the Israelites to believe that Moses himself was a god. He paid dearly for his loss of self-control, when G-d denied him entry into land of Israel (Numbers 20:12). Like Moses, many of us hit objects when we are angry. And, like Moses, many of us also pay dearly for the stupid things we say and do. For example, we may walk out of a relationship that should have been preserved, or refuse to reconcile with someone with whom we have had a falling out. If our wisdom deserts us when we are enraged, we must learn to hold our tongues, particularly when we are the most angry.
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