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Chapter 29: 4-6
Character Traits to Follow

4. Similarly, anger is an extremely wicked trait which a person should keep far from. He should train himself not to become angry, even over things which rightfully provoke anger.

If he has cast fear over his children and the members of his household, he should appear angry before them, to admonish them; but, in his own heart, he should be settled.

[Berochos 29b] relates that Elijah the prophet told Rabbi Yehudah, the brother of Rav Sallah, the pious, "Do not become angry, for anger will lead to sin. Do not become intoxicated, for this will lead to sin."

Furthermore, our Sages said (see Shabbos 105b; Zohar, Bereshis): "Whoever becomes angry is considered as one who serves idols." [Nedorim 22a] states "All types of Gehinnom rule him, as [Ecclesiastes 11:10] states: 'remove anger from your heart, and [thus] remove evil from your flesh.' 'Evil' refers to Gehinnom, [as Proverbs 16:4] states: 'they wicked for the evil day,'"

The lives of those who are constantly angry are hardly lives. Therefore, our Sages commanded us to keep away from anger to the extent where we make ourselves unresponsive even to matters which provoke anger.

This is a good path and the path of the righteous, who are insulted but do not insult others, who hear others shame them and do not respond. They act out of love and are happy even in the face of suffering. [Judges 5:31] describes them as follows: "Those who love Him are as the sun as it goes forth in its might" (Shabbos 88b).

5. A person should always practice [the virtue of] silence. He should speak only about the words of Torah or about things that are necessary for his existence. Even with regard to the latter, he should not indulge in prolonged conversation. Our Sages have taught (Avos 1:17): "Whoever indulges in excessive talk brings on sin." Similarly, they have taught (ibid.): "I have found nothing better for one's person that silence."

[Arachin 15b quotes] Ravvah as saying: What is the meaning of [Proverbs 18:21]: "Death and life are in the power of the tongue" - one who desires life, must realize that it is dependent on the tongue; one who desires death, must realize that it is dependent on the tongue.

6. A person should never be given over to frivolity and jest; nor to sadness and melancholy. Rather, he should be happy. [Ovos 3:17] teaches: "Frivolity and lightheadedness accustom a person to lewdness."

A person should not be greedy, overanxious about money, or heavy-hearted and idle. Rather, he should be a pleasant is position, minimizing his business activity in order to study Torah. The little which is granted him should make him happy, as [Ovos 4:28] teaches: "Envy, lust, and desire for honor drive a person out of this world." A person should separate himself from them. *

* {See ibid., Chapter 2.}

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Halacha-Yomi, Copyright (c) 1999 Project Genesis, Inc.

 

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