There are many programs for “Anger Management.” We may not be able to avoid feeling angry when provoked, but we can control our reactions.
The tzaddik Rebbe Mordechai of Neschiz longed to have a talis katan (four cornered garment with tzitzis) made of wool from sheep in the Holy Land. In 1800, this was not easy to come by, but after much effort, he succeeded in getting a piece of such wool. He was elated, and gave it to a student to fashion into a talis katan.
The student, anxious to fulfill the master’s wish, folded the wool to cut out the hole for putting in on over the head. In his haste, he folded it once too many, and when he cut the material he ended up with two holes! The precious cloth was ruined.
Trembling and tearful, he brought the ruined cloth to the master, expecting to be sharply reprimanded for his neglect.
Rebbe Mordechai looked at the ruined cloth and said to the student, “Don’t fret. This cloth really needed two holes. One, to put over the head, and the second, to see whether I would get enraged.”
That is “anger management.”
Another story of Rebbe Mordechai.
Rebbe Mordechai saved pennies all year to be able to buy an ethrog (citron) to fulfill themitzvah of the four species on Sukkot. Several days before the festivals, he went in high spirits to buy the ethrog. He came across a man sitting at the side of the road, weeping bitterly.
Upon enquiring, the man told him that he made his living as a porter, delivering packages. “My horse dropped dead, and I have no money to buy another horse. I can’t feed my large family.”
Without hesitation, Rebbe Mordechai handed him his bag of money. “Here, my dear man, this may help you buy a horse.” The man blessed him and ran off joyfully.
Rebbe Mordechai said, “Ribono Shel Olam! (Master of the universe). On Sukkot, all Jews will be making the beracha on an ethrog. But me? I will be making the beracha on a horse!”