“Adonai, do not punish me in anger, do not chastise me in fury.” (6:2)
Anger is an addictive emotion. We feel powerfully alive when are are angry. Heart pounding, air pumping in and out of our lungs, muscles tense, the brain flashing like lightning. But our mind and body are focused on exactly one thought, one decision — fight or flight?
In that moment, we are not capable of truly rational thought. Nuance is lost. “Protect and Defend,” our mind is telling us. “Break, Smash, Destroy!” Or perhaps, “Run away! Duck and Cover! Roll and Dodge!”
It’s a paradox – in the moment when you feel most alive and energized and ready to make a split second decision, at that precise moment you are incapable of discernment. At that moment, you should not write an email or text, lest you press send. At that moment, you should not phone or message or chat.
The Psalmist knew that judgement is impaired when we are angry. Never mind that the Psalmist is talking about God – even God, as depicted in the Torah, burns with hot anger but can be “talked down” from God’s destructive power. The Blessed Holy One pulling back from the abyss becomes our model for proper control over our own angry impulses.