Saturday, November 27, 2004

On Anger and Relationships

I heard a very nice little vort at lunch today, which resonated a great deal with me, in light of my recent ponderings on the celebrity deathmatch between Doormat and Psycho B*tch. I wish I remembered more of the details, and the exact context, so that I could report it accurately. This will be a very poor recap, but here goes anyway...

It started out as a comparison between the etymology of the words 'Islam" and "Judaism". Apparently, 'Islam" means submission, in the sense of submission to Hashem/Allah/The Big Guy Upstairs. "Judaism" on the other hand is the religion of "B'nai Israel", and in this week's parsha, we see the source of the name "Israel". It means one who struggles with Hashem, and with man. So the gist of this little vort was that the concept of submitting to Hashem does not really enter into Jewish philosophy. Instead, we are supposed to question, struggle, grapple with Hashem. As my childhood rabbi, Rabbi Deitcher, z"l, used to say, it is always okay to doubt. But doubt should not stand in the way of action. And we have examples of individuals grappling with Hashem in the Torah, particularly Avraham Avinu and Moshe Rabbeinu.

As is said many times, our relationships with one another are mini versions of our relationship with Hashem. So just as we should not submit entirely to Hashem, but should feel comfortable to raise questions and argue when we need to, so too should we be able to argue and grapple with the people in our lives. The ability to be angry with someone you love is one of the signs of a healthy relationship. This applies to family, friends, spouses, etc. If you don't feel comfortable disagreeing with someone you love, than you are submerging part of your personality, and not being true to yourself or fair to the other person. After all, how can someone love you for who you are if you've not let them see who you really are?

Shavua tov.

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