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You Shall Not Ignore Your Brother’s Anger (Yeshua’s teaching on anger - Part 7)

In the first blog in this series -- An Angry Person Should be Tried in Court like a Murderer -- we saw that Yeshua’s message about anger was linked to Leviticus 19:17-18:

You shall not hate your brother in your heart.
You shall YAKACh with your neighbor lest you bear sin because of him.
You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your people.
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

In the Torah, anger is linked to the Hebrew word translated “grudge” in the above verse. In the previous blog in this series -- Settle Matters With Your Brother While There is Still Time – we learned that unresolved anger could block one’s forgiveness from YAHWEH and negate the value of one’s sacrifice. The man who had committed one of the three degrees of offenses related to anger, according to Yeshua, was to leave his QORBAN (sacrifice) at the altar, go find the one who he had committed the offense against, be reconciled with him, and then return to the Temple and present his QORBAN.

But, YESHUA’s disciples would have realized that someone else might also need to leave his QORBAN at the altar, beside the angry man. In order to understand the words from Leviticus, we must become familiar with a common literary feature of Hebrew poetry and prose called parallelisms.” In a parallelism, the words of two or more lines of text are directly related in some way. Being able to recognize parallelisms greatly increase the chances to accurately understand the passage. Below are the parallelisms in the verses from Leviticus above:

Line 1 -- You shall not hate your brother . . .

Line 2 -- You shall YAKACh with your neighbor . . .

Line 3 -- You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge . . .

Line 4 -- You shall love your neighbor . . .

The symbol used for parallelism is //.

Line 1 // Line 3
hate // vengeance & grudge

Line 2 // Line 4
YAHACh // love

In this context, a person that takes vengeance or bears a grudge against his brother -- hates him.
Keep in mind that -- “You shall not hate” -- is a commandment, just like those found in the Ten Commandments, and so is -- “You shall love.”

What does “love” mean here? The answer is provided in the parallelism in the context – it is to YAHACh. See if this is what comes to your mind when you think about love. The Hebrew & Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (Vol. 2 page 410) defines YAHACh as:

(1) rebuke[i]
(a) to express sharp, stern disapproval of
(b) to reprove
(c) to reprimand

(2) prove[ii]
(a) to establish the truth or genuineness of
(b) to establish the truth by evidence or argument

Love in this context of the teachings of Yeshua meant “to express sharp, stern disapproval, reprove and reprimand your angry brother.” Ignoring his anger would be to hate him!

The Pentateuch: Translation of the text and excerpts from the commentary of Samuel Raphael Hirsch (p. 455) provides information about the meaning of YAHACh in this context:

Rebuke . . . again and again. In the vast majority of cases where it occurs in Scripture . . . (it) denotes making someone aware of an unpleasant fact about himself, to explain to him that he has been guilty of an intellectual error, or that he has strayed from the path of morality. . . . In this verse we are told: Do not hate your brother in your heart, but take him to task, make him realize what he has done. This commandment imposes upon us the noble duty, if we feel we have been wronged or insulted by another, to forget the matter completely and not permit it to affect our attitude toward him in any manner, or, if we feel we cannot do this, not to allow sinister hatred to smolder in our hearts but to speak out to him candidly in order to give him an opportunity to justify his conduct or to make amends for it. . . .

“At the same time, however, the commandment to “rebuke . . . again and again” implies that every member of the Jewish community has the duty not to remain silent when he sees a fellow Jew commit a sin, be it great or small, but must do his part by remonstrating (showing or pointing out) with him again and again . . . so that the sinner may, if possible, gain insight into his conduct and mend his ways.”

The Mitzvot: The Commandments and Their Rationale (p. 230) by Abraham Chill adds the following insights into the meaning of the commandment, “You shall rebuke your neighbor”:

(1) No one lives on an island by himself. Everyone’s life is interwoven with the lives of those around him. As Judaism sees it, every Jew is responsible for the welfare of one’s fellow Jews.

(2) Concern for the welfare of one’s neighbor includes concern for his moral and spiritual growth. The Torah therefore asks us to “rebuke” our fellow Jew if we see that he is doing wrong, and to keep on rebuking him until he mends his ways or until it becomes obvious that our concern succeeds only in arousing his resentment. If we remonstrate with him, we must do so in a kind and gentle manner, pointing out to him that we have no other interest except to help him.

(3) It is a sin to shame a sinner in public without first having remonstrated with him in private. The Rabbis say that he who unnecessarily humiliates another man in public forfeits his own share in the world to come.

Yeshua’s message about anger made it clear that what an angry man says can elevate anger to much higher offenses. It also leads to something more serious than anger -- fury. Pay close attention to the parallelisms below:

Make no friendship with an angry man //
do not walk with a furious man. (Proverbs 22:24)

An angry man stirs up strife //
a furious man abounds in sin. (Proverbs 29:22)

Just as words spoken by the angry man – RAQA & NAVAL – elevated the seriousness of the offense, the lack of words of rebuke by the Jews who heard them, played an important role too. If they had acted when they saw him become angry or when he said RAQA or when he said NAVAL – the man could have done TESHUVAH (repentance) and been forgiven. Therefore, when those men went to the Temple to present their QORBAN, if they had remembered that they had committed an offense against the angry man by not rebuking him – they would have to leave their QORBAN there and gone to find him.

This brings us to the last part of Yeshua’s lesson on anger. Yeshua included several clues in his message that every Jew in his audience, and probably most Jews today, would immediately recognize as references to angry man that almost destroyed the whole world.

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