Dear Rabbi Wolf,

You have absolutely blown my mind away by saying in your lecture that anger can be completely eliminated. But isn't anger a natural emotion and therefore we need to express it together with the full range of emotions we are born with?

Susan H. (Los Angeles)

Dear Susan,

Anger is not a 'natural emotion'. It is a 'derivative product' that we manufacture from the range of spiritual 'raw materials'. You have the ability to produce a much better final product.

The soul expresses itself through spiritual energies called Sefirot . Through our mind and heart we take these energies and express them in the world of 'here and now' - our behaviours, words, and thoughts. The Sefirot flow through our emotions in seven distinct pathways. These seven are the true emotions. Hassidic Kabbalah explains each one of these. Anger is definitely not one of them.

But if we misuse these seven energies through selfishness, egocenteredness, fear, or low self-esteem, then anger is the hybrid we produce. Anger is always selfish - a preoccupation with self at the expense of the other. Anger is an attempt to control and dominate. And the angry person suffers; down to the cellular level, as contemporary mind/body medicine clearly demonstrates. Anger neither assists the problem, nor the people involved, or health and wholeness, or the relationship.

In fact, anger is the way we channel the emotion energies through our lower-order self, called the Nefesh Behamit (the 'animalistic' side of the soul).

Even though the popular 'pop-psychology' view has been to 'vent' anger to 'get it out of the system', more recent research demonstrates that venting anger only reinforces the pathway of anger - it becomes a dress rehearsal for the next occasion.

If you really want to use your energy wisely, use the same energy that would have been directed unwisely in anger, and redirect it through compassion. If someone is digging at you, abusing you, yelling at you - be aware that that person is the one who has the problem, not you. Be compassionate. Strategise how you can assist him or her - if not at this moment, then later. Anger only aggravates and solves nothing - and hurts you in the process. It's far from a natural emotion - it's proof that true understanding is lacking.

The world would be a much better place not only if we 'quit smoking' - but also if we 'quit anger'.