Reason is Lost in Anger

In his anger, Moses had lost his reason and knowledge of the law.

Commentary on Parashat Shmini, Leviticus 9:1-11:47; Exodus 12:1-20

We all become rash when we are angry. We are quick to condemn others. Anger clouds our reason, and we can accuse others without thinking clearly.  When we become angry we should ask ourselves: what good motivation might this person have for his or her action that I can’t see? What am I missing that this person sees? Though we may have reason to be upset, often our own reactions are clouded by emotion, blinding us from seeing the true situation before us.

In this week’s parashah, Moses gets angry with Eliezer and Itamar, two of his brother Aaron’s sons. He thinks that they have done something wrong, and he loudly scolds them, saying that they really ought to have listened to him. But Aaron interrupts Moses and gently explains how his sons have not actually done anything wrong. Their way of doing things was acceptable, too. In his anger, Moses had lost his reason and knowledge of the law. In the end, he is humbled and gladly relents to his brother.

Moses’ anger clouds his reason, and his nephews suffer from this.  How many times have we exploded at someone, missing their good intentions because of our anger? We miss reasonable explanations because we are angry. We are not alone in our effort to see through our anger. Like Moses and Aaron, we can rely on our friends and loved ones to help us calm down when we are upset and not lose our rational selves to anger.

TALK TO YOUR KIDS about how it feels to be angry.


· Why is it so hard to give others the benefit of the doubt when you are angry?

· When you look back at a time you had an angry outburst, how do you feel? Would react differently now?

· How can you help someone calm down when he or she is angry?

From “Values and Ethics: Torah Topics for Today,” available from Behrman House Publishers.

Discover More

Gittin 60

Torah — one scroll or five?

Kiddushin 33

Torah in the bathhouse.

Modern Israel at a Glance

An overview of the Jewish state and its many accomplishments and challenges.