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Ellul is in full swing. It is the month of repentance in preparation for the Day of Judgement. Every morning, the shofar is sounded with its soulful plea to awaken people from their spiritual slumber.

Now that repentance season is upon us, it is time to hone in on the remedy to anger, whose spiritual ramifications have been described but whose ultimate cure remains a mystery, and seek permanent change.

Anger underlies the essential disorder in the world. Emotionally, it comes from a basic flaw within the human psyche as exemplified within the following scenario. A person wakes up late and is confronted with a frenetic dash to catch a bus. The bus is within sight and just begins to pull away as he approaches. The person reaches the door and gives a light tap. People expect the natural order of the world to dictate that a reasonable driver would slow down and open the door. On the occasion that this does not happen, a wide chasm opens between expectations and reality.

Two things then occur. First, the ego shouts that there is an obligation for the world to reflect internal expectations. The dissonance between what is and what is expected reverberates to the point that a person reaches internal disorder and anger courses through his veins; more often than not, he acts in an unbecoming way.

Then, the expectations a person has of reality are adjusted to fit the current picture. This should hypothetically remove the dissonance and quell the anger with what is perhaps equally toxic, disillusionment; the world is unfair! How do we fix this prototypical scenario that exists in many forms throughout our day either with our kids or spouse where often expectation does not meet reality? The goal is to get rid of the ego and replace it with, perhaps, the most foreign term imaginable, faith or emuna. Faith has a negative connotation. It elicits images of unthinking fanatics, who are honed in to ideas without an ounce of logic or reason invested. This is not the concept of faith spoken about here. It is anything but blind; rather, it requires the ultimate investment of mental energy and the creative faculty. Faith has two intricately linked components. It starts with the ability to turn off the ego through the knowledge that the Power that is dictates ultimate reality (that does not exempt a person from exerting maximal effort; rather, a person should not always expect the effort to be realized in actuality). Therefore, when things do not unfold according to a person’s expectations, it should be comforting to know that they do unfold according to somebody Else’s expectations. This first step is the one that most people will never make. In a system that values the ultimate power of man (a.k.a Tower of Babel) this step is much too painful and frightening.

To accept that humanity is not in complete control confronts a person with a dark abyss of uncertainty. The depth of faith is to live life according to the principle that the First Cause is there and personally arranging the ups and downs in life to maximize the soul’s potential. Maximal potential is never reached through ease, and what is good for the soul is often not what is good for the body. In fact, ease of life is in many ways the toughest challenge a person has to overcome.

The job of man is to adjust the perception of reality to fit this principle. Take the mundane example above. Rather than adjusting the picture of the world as a generally unfair place, it is best to step back and adjust the picture of how the bus system works. Most likely, there are rules that certain bus driver are more stringent with, namely that the bus can not make exceptions for single people. Thanks to these rules, the system works smoothly, and a person should be at peace that the bus did not wait for him.

More importantly, the person should use this event as a communication device to change his behavior to be more disciplined and come a few minutes earlier. Regardless, anger never factors in the equation.

At the root of this endeavor is an actively creative intellect that constantly builds a G-dly reality for a person. That is precisely the root of ‘emuna,אמנה‘an ‘euman, אומנ’, which means a craftsmen. The backbone of faith is for a person to create a steady framework through which to view reality. Analyze the word mystically and it reflects complete devotion to an idea.

The ‘alef’ represents the unity and truth of G-d , which is the idea in Judaism. A person has to carry that idea to the ‘mem’ of maisa or action through all of life challenges, which is the ‘nun’. A nun is the letter that grammatically and graphically represents a consistent state of being. Verbs such as 'nshmar' are used to desribe a subject as being in a consistent, and unchanging status. Graphically, the final 'nun' extends all the way down, through the line as though unending. No matter which one of life’s quirks is presented, a person finds a way to see that G-d is behind it and that it is for the good. As one can imagine, this is easily written, but nearly impossible to act. The paradigm of faith is our quintessential forefather, Abraham. It says in verse 15:6, “And he (Abraham) had faith in g-d, and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.” On this verse R’ Nechemia states, “You will see that only because of the reward of faith, he (Abraham) merited this world and the next world”. His faith is what led him to become the foundation for Israel.

The key to any solid foundation is strength and that is precisely what faith affords a person, the strength to be like a rock. That is how Abraham is described by the prophet Isaiah, ‘Look at the rock (Abraham) from which you were hewn…’. Surely there are many strong and formidable materials out there, so why is a rock the paradigm of strength and wh

at is its connection to faith or emuna? A rock is called a ‘tzur’ in Hebrew. It is a dense material that concentrates matter. צור also means a ‘form or picture’ and it is related to ‘tzar, צר’ which means narrow. Through faith, a person crafts a steady, concentrated picture of the world that is internally stable and focused through an unyielding narrow lens of good despite external realities that appear otherwise.

Most importantly, through faith, a person forms himself. Just as a tree needs to be pruned to grow properly, so too does a person need to prune away external thoughts that pull him away from his ‘alef’.

All of life’s successes are attributed to faith whether it is a sports team, company, or artists. It means taking an ideal such as ‘hard work’ and sticking to it even when external realities, such as tiredness, attempt to derail it. Life is impotent without faith, for without it, a person blows in the wind and never concentrates reality into one spot.

Faith eradicates reactive anger because there is never room for internal dissonance as a person is grounded to the principle that there is a bigger picture than their own behind reality.

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