Anger, Love, and the Mystery of the Omer

Lisa Goldstein
Rabbi Lisa Goldstein
I am looking out my window in New York, marveling at the tender green leaves and the sweet apple blossoms and wondering about one of the most counter-intuitive customs in the Jewish calendar: During this period between Passover and Shavuot, many communities practice a kind of mourning - forbidding weddings, not listening to music and refraining from buying festive new clothes. And yet, in northern climes, this is exactly when spring - in all its romantic blossoming glory - is at its peak! During Passover we read the Song of Songs, celebrating (heterosexual) erotic love and springtime! Why, then, does a more somber spiritual energy takes precedence over this bursting of new life and the possibility of coming together?

The tradition explains this emphasis on mourning by observing that it was during this season that 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva perished. Imagine - 24,000! According to the Talmud, they died because of enmity between them. In fact, the Talmud says that there were 12,000 pairs of students, emphasizing their separation from each other.

The Journey to Sinai: Up and Down, In and Out
Jonathan Slater
Rabbi Jonathan Slater
On the night of the Exodus, the Israelites experienced the direct perception of God.We read in Ex. 12:12, " For that night I will go through the land of Egypt andstrike down every fi rst-born in the land of  Egypt, both man and beast; and I will mete out punishments to all the gods of Egypt, I YHVH, " and the authors of the Haggadah interpret: "I, and not an angel; I, and not a seraph; I, and not a messenger - I am the One, and no other." In the darkness of that last night light explodes into the homes of the Israelites. They perceive the workings of the universe, the rise and fall of individuals and nations, the recompense for injustice, the thrust toward reconciliation. Beyond all comprehension, they know God.

practice2Working with Anger: Yoga Practice

Myriam Klotz

Rabbi Myriam Klotz

When we experience moments of stress or trauma, our cellular memory stores these experiences even when we may forget or put these memories away from our conscious thoughts. Many mental health professionals have found that in order to heal and thrive it is essential to companion our somatic, or physical selves through what we may not be able to express or even understand cognitively when experiencing strong emotions like anger.

Mindful Moral Outrage:
The Role of Anger in Spiritual Activism 

Webinar with Rabbi Josh Lesser
Wednesday, May 3, at 3pm ET

What role, if any, should anger play in our social justice activism? Josh Lesser will explore this issue  from the perspective of Jewish mindfulness practice, and will discuss examples of moral outrage in our tradition in the third of our series of social justice webinars.

Click here to register.
 practice3Matot-Masei: The Breath and Breadth of Anger
(text study on Numbers 30:2-36:13, read July 22 this year)

Rabbi Pamela Wax

I just saw a performance of  Oh, God , an Israeli play in which a depressed God enters therapy with Ella. When Ella draws uncomfortably close to the core truth of his wounds, God is on the verge of striking her dead. She showers him with praise for ultimately restraining his anger. Though we learn that it wasn't in fact restraint that motivates God in that moment, the scene is fantastically Mussardik - watching a character on the edge of reason, on the precipice of a true tantrum, ultimately step back from acting out that rage.

 practice4Letting Anger Go: A Meditation on
Sheila Weinberg

Rabbi Sheila Weinberg

Sit comfortably allowing your spine to be erect and your heart to be soft.

Bring your attention to your hands resting in your lap or on your legs.

Let the palms be open and facing up.

Let the fingers soften and relax.

Let the shape of your hands show that you are open in your heart.