20 Tamuz 5779 / Tuesday, July 23, 2019 | Torah Reading: mattot
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Dracula's Kids    

Dracula's Kids

People spend fortunes on plastic surgery in order to improve their appearance. Yet, as soon as they get angry, their investment goes down the drain…


If it wasn't a wedding, you'd have thought that it was Purim.


I once had the unfortunate opportunity of seeing a bride lose her temper moments before the wedding ceremony. For some inexplicable reason, she became furious at her sister. Hot tears of wrath began slithering down her cheeks, leaving black, telltale rivulets of mascara smears all over her face. The groom almost had heart seizure – he thought that Dracula's daughter was coming down the aisle in his direction.


How's that for an original Purim costume? Have you ever seen Dracula's daughter in a wedding gown? If it weren't such a tragedy, it would actually be funny. Angry people seem scary at first, but in reality, they look ridiculous.


Dracula had a son in a wedding costume too. He was a bridegroom who spent a hundred fifty dollars on an exclusive haircut, a thousand dollars on a hand-tailored three-piece suit, three hundred dollars on a chic pair of Italian shoes, another hundred twenty for a massage and spa, and six hundred dollars for a rented limousine and uniformed driver. He arrived at the grand ballroom of the local Hilton – the site of his wedding – and lost his temper at one of the waiters. He exposed his gritting teeth in a way that looked just like Daddy Dracula's dagger-fangs. He could have easily passed for Dracula's son.


What girl wants Dracula for a father-in-law or his son for a husband?


People spend phenomenal sums on new clothes, coiffure, and cosmetics. Yet, with one small tantrum, their efforts are wasted.


Nothing improves a person's appearance like a tranquil soul, and nothing destroys a person's appearance like anger and inner turbulence. People spend fortunes on plastic surgery in order to improve their appearance. Yet, as soon as they get angry, their investment goes down the drain. A bit of genuine tranquility can make a person more attractive than any plastic surgery can. Think of the pain and money saved in the process!


The Gemara in tractate Shabbat 105b describes the profile of an irate person like this: "Rabbi Yochanan ben Nuri says that he who tears his own clothes in fury and breaks objects in anger and throws his money in fury, shall be in your eyes as an idol worshipper, for such is the craftiness of the evil inclination – today he tells you to have a temper tantrum and tomorrow he tells you to bow down to idols. Rabbi Abin says "You shall not have within you a strange god" (Psalms 81) – who is the strange god within a person? It's Anger, and anger's boss, the evil inclination, aka "EI".


The Gemara teaches us just how an angry person loses control of him/herself. When a person succumbs to anger, the brain – where the holy soul dwells - is incapacitated. The EI and anger, two very dark-side forces, seize control of that person. Anger and the holy soul – the neshama - are mutually exclusive, so when a person gets angry, the neshama leaves and all that remains is the nefesh, the basic animal life source. When the soul leaves the body, the person is rendered spiritually dead, or impure. Therefore, anger can never stimulate a blessing in life.


Let's take a closer look at this: anger causes the divine soul to leave the domain of the angry person altogether. In metaphysics as in physics, there is no vacuum in the world. Therefore, when a person's divine soul picks up and leaves, an impure soul from the nether spiritual world – what Kabbalists call "the dark side" – enters the person. As such, the angry person severs himself from God and from holiness, and places himself under the regime of evil forces.


A person's good deeds, such as giving charity, assisting other people, and dealing honestly enhance and strengthen the divine soul. Yet, a moment of unleashed anger can destroy the spiritual gains of months and even years.


Imagine a glass blower that has patiently worked on an exquisite crystal chandelier for three years. If in one quick second, the chandelier is knocked off the worktable, it shatters on the floor in a million pieces. The divine soul resembles that fine crystal chandelier; a moment of anger is liable to destroy it, too.


A dead body is ritually impure. An angry person is spiritually similar to a dead body, since both are devoid of their divine souls. Therefore, atoning for anger is more difficult than atoning for other serious misdeeds.


The blemish of an average misdeed is similar to a dent in a new car – a trip to the body shop and a few hundred dollars can have the car looking like new. Prayer, self-evaluation, and a resolution to try harder are usually enough to recompense for an average blemish to the soul. Anger, on the other hand, resembles a car with a blown engine, that either needs a complete overhaul or a new engine altogether.


Correcting the damages of anger is tantamount to revitalizing a dead person. In order to regain the divine soul, a person must make a major spiritual overhaul.


It doesn't matter who gets angry. The Torah teaches that even Moses suffered from temporary amnesia when he got angry.


As soon as we taste the slightest bit of anger, we should proceed with extreme caution as we've reached a railroad crossing and a speeding locomotive is fast approaching. That engine of that locomotive is a dark-side force by the name of anger – it propels a whole train of negative emotions and violent reactions that bowls over anything that gets in its way.


So when anger approaches, imagine that it’s the approaching train. Steer clear of the tracks and let the train pass. Don't yell, curse, hit, slap, or react. If you stop for a critical three seconds, you won't make a gut reaction that you're liable to regret for decades. As soon as the evil passes, like a locomotive or like a wave crashing on the shore, then the neshama, the holy soul, is capable of retaining and regaining its rule over the body.


The Zohar in Parshat Tetzave says that the angry person becomes spiritually dead, impure, and a vessel of idol worship. No wonder he or she looks like a member of Dracula's family!


Since a person's countenance, particularly his or her eyes, are the window to the soul, it's really easy to recognize an angry person, because anger destroys one's appearance. A face shines with happiness, or becomes dull and lifeless with sadness. The eyes are the windows of the soul; no mascara or eye shadow can replace the beauty reflected by tranquil eyes and a pure, serene soul. Conversely, no eye makeup in the world can compensate for the repulsive look of angry eyes and an impure soul. Simply speaking, tranquility makes you beautiful and anger does the opposite. Nothing in the world is so magically magnetic like a tranquil smile. Happy Purim!



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