By Five Towns Marriage Initiative

After the war with Midian, Moshe met with the officers of the army. The pasuk says, “Vayiktzof Moshe al pekudei he’chayil,” “Moshe was angry with the commanding officers,” as they hadn’t followed his instructions. A few pesukim later, the Torah is discussing the laws of kashering vessels, such as those captured from Midian, and the pasuk says, “Va’yomer Elazar HaKohen . . . zos chukas haTorah asher tzivah Hashem es Moshe,” “Elazar HaKohen said . . . This is the decree of the Torah which Hashem commanded Moshe.” Rashi here explains that since Moshe got angry, he could not remember the halachos, and Elazar had to step forward and explain them.

Rav Chaim Shmulevitz explains that Moshe’s anger at the commanding officers was completely justified. The commanding officers didn’t listen to the instructions Moshe had given them. Nevertheless, because he got angry, Moshe forgot the halachah.

It was not a punishment; it was a natural cause and effect of anger. Chazal teach us when a person gets angry, he loses wisdom (Pesachim 66b).

Chazal and the ba’alei mussar discuss in depth the dangers of anger and its results. We all realize that anger can be very harmful. Yet there are situations during which the anger really is justifiable because the other person truly did something wrong. At times like this it is worthwhile to remember that even justifiable anger counts as anger. Anger in any form, justified or not, has an effect on a person. Oftentimes in the office or in a professional setting a person has to try to control even justifiable anger, because it isn’t proper. Unfortunately, in marriage sometimes it is easier to convince oneself that it is all right to be angry because in this situation it really is justified. At such a time one should remind himself that when a person is angry he is not fully in control, even when he thinks he is, and can say or do things that can adversely affect the relationship.

Let us integrate the idea that anger in any form, justifiable or not, is anger and can be very damaging to our marriage. May Hashem help us to avoid anger and to handle any anger-provoking situations in our marriage in a way that will build the relationship. v

Five Towns Marriage Initiative provides educational programs, workshops, and referrals to top marriage therapists. FTMI will help offset counseling costs when necessary and also runs an anonymous shalom bayis hotline for the entire community Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday evenings, 10:00—11:00 p.m. For the hotline or for more information, call 516-430-5280 or e‑mail

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