Anger management, rabbinical style


By Simon Rocker
June 15, 2009
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Rabbis don’t often talk openly about the problems that they have with congregants.

But in an article for the latest edition of Common Ground , the magazine of the Council of Christians and Jews, Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer reveals how he coped with “a small but vociferous” element at his previous community (Northwood).

“It seemed to be that whatever I did, I could not please them and their unfair criticism and machinations put a tremendous strain upon me and my family,” he writes.

What helped him was reading Psalm 37, in particular the words: “Give up anger, abandon fury/Do not be vexed; It can only do harm.”

He writes: “I was at the time feeling very angry and sorry for myself and the result was that it was affecting my health. The Hebrew word at the beginning of this verse is heref from the root rf,, which means to weaken or to release one’s grip or hold.

“This held tremendous poignancy for me as I realised how absorbed I was in my own anger and self-pity. Reading this verse on a daily basis gave me the strength to let go of my anger over time and the feeling of release was truly liberating.”

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