Character
1 א
אמר רבי אילעאי בשלשה דברים אדם ניכר בכוסו ובכיסו ובכעסו ואמרי ליה אף בשחקו:

Rabbi Elai said: In three matters a person is known; in his cup, in his pocket, and in his anger. And some say: also in his laughter.

2 ב

בכוסו - אם דעתו מיושבת עליו ביינו: בכיסו - כשנושא ונותן עם בני אדם אם באמונה הוא עושה: בכעסו - שאינו קפדן יותר מדאי:

...In his cup: that his spirit is settled when he's been drinking. In his pocket: that he engages in business with others faithfully. In his anger: that he not be too strident.

3 ג
(ה) תַּעֲרֹ֬ךְ לְפָנַ֨י ׀ שֻׁלְחָ֗ן נֶ֥גֶד צֹרְרָ֑י דִּשַּׁ֖נְתָּ בַשֶּׁ֥מֶן רֹ֝אשִׁ֗י כּוֹסִ֥י רְוָיָֽה׃

(5) You spread a table for me in full view of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

4 ד
תָּנוּ רַבָּנַן: הָרוֹאֶה אוּכְלוּסֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, אוֹמֵר: ״בָּרוּךְ … חֲכַם הָרָזִים״ — שֶׁאֵין דַּעְתָּם דּוֹמָה זֶה לָזֶה, וְאֵין פַּרְצוּפֵיהֶן דּוֹמִים זֶה לָזֶה. בֶּן זוֹמָא רָאָה אוּכְלוּסָא עַל גַּב מַעֲלָה בְּהַר הַבַּיִת, אָמַר: ״בָּרוּךְ … חֲכַם הָרָזִים וּבָרוּךְ … שֶׁבָּרָא כׇּל אֵלּוּ לְשַׁמְּשֵׁנִי״. הוּא הָיָה אוֹמֵר: כַּמָּה יְגִיעוֹת יָגַע אָדָם הָרִאשׁוֹן עַד שֶׁמָּצָא פַּת לֶאֱכוֹל: חָרַשׁ, וְזָרַע, וְקָצַר, וְעִמֵּר, וְדָשׁ, וְזָרָה, וּבָרַר, וְטָחַן, וְהִרְקִיד, וְלָשׁ, וְאָפָה, וְאַחַר כָּךְ אָכַל. וַאֲנִי מַשְׁכִּים וּמוֹצֵא כׇּל אֵלּוּ מְתוּקָּנִין לְפָנַי. וְכַמָּה יְגִיעוֹת יָגַע אָדָם הָרִאשׁוֹן עַד שֶׁמָּצָא בֶּגֶד לִלְבּוֹשׁ: גָּזַז, וְלִבֵּן, וְנִפֵּץ, וְטָוָה, וְאָרַג, וְאַחַר כָּךְ מָצָא בֶּגֶד לִלְבּוֹשׁ, וַאֲנִי מַשְׁכִּים וּמוֹצֵא כׇּל אֵלֶּה מְתוּקָּנִים לְפָנַי. כׇּל אוּמּוֹת שׁוֹקְדוֹת וּבָאוֹת לְפֶתַח בֵּיתִי, וַאֲנִי מַשְׁכִּים וּמוֹצֵא כׇּל אֵלּוּ לְפָנַי.

The Sages taught in a Tosefta: One who sees multitudes of Israel recites: Blessed…Who knows all secrets. Why is this? He sees a whole nation whose minds are unlike each other and whose faces are unlike each other, and the One Who knows all secrets, God, knows what is in each of their hearts. The Gemara relates: Ben Zoma once saw a multitude [okhlosa] of Israel while standing on a stair on the Temple Mount. He immediately recited: Blessed…Who knows all secrets and Blessed…Who created all these to serve me. Explaining his custom, he would say: How much effort did Adam the first man exert before he found bread to eat: He plowed, sowed, reaped, sheaved, threshed, winnowed in the wind, separated the grain from the chaff, ground the grain into flour, sifted, kneaded, and baked and only thereafter he ate. And I, on the other hand, wake up and find all of these prepared for me. Human society employs a division of labor, and each individual benefits from the service of the entire world. Similarly, how much effort did Adam the first man exert before he found a garment to wear? He sheared, laundered, combed, spun and wove, and only thereafter he found a garment to wear. And I, on the other hand, wake up and find all of these prepared for me. Members of all nations, merchants and craftsmen, diligently come to the entrance of my home, and I wake up and find all of these before me.

5 ה

(לה) נתן תתן לו ולא ירע לבבך בתתך לו (דברים ט״ו:י׳). והזהרנו בזה להרחיק מנפשנו צרות העין. ולהיותנו טובי עין. כענין שנאמר (משלי כ״ב:ט׳) טוב עין הוא יבורך. ולא די במתנת היד [לבד כי אם] אשר נטע בנפשותינו מדת הנדיבות. על כן הזהיר ואמר ולא ירע לבבך אחר שנאמר נתן תתן לו:

(לו) לא תאמץ את לבבך ולא תקפוץ את ידך (דברים ט״ו:ז׳). הוזהרנו להסיר מנפשנו מדת האכזריות. ונטוע בה נטעי נעמנים, הם הרחמים והחסדים הנאמנים. כמו שכתוב (שם כה) והלכת בדרכיו. ובעבור כי מן האפשר שלא יקפוץ את ידו ויחון את העני ולא מדרך רחמנות. כענין שנאמר (משלי י״ב:י׳) ורחמי רשעים אכזרי. על כן כתוב לא תאמץ את לבבך. ועונש האכזריות רע ומר. כאשר יתבאר בשער האכזריות בעזרת האל. ואמרו רבותינו זכרונם לברכה (דברים י״ג:י״ח) ונתן לך רחמים ורחמך והרבך. כל המרחם על הבריות מרחמין עליו מן השמים וכל שאינו מרחם על הבריות אין מרחמין עליו מן השמים:

(35) “Give to him readily and have no regrets when you give to him” (Deuteronomy 15:10). We were warned with this to distance our souls from miserliness, but rather to be generous - like the matter that is stated (Proverbs 22:9), “The generous man is blessed.” And it is not enough with the gifts of our hands, but we must rather plant the trait of generosity into our souls. Therefore, it warned and said, “and have no regrets,” after it is stated, “Give to him readily.”

(36) “Do not harden your heart and shut your hand” (Deuteronomy 15:7). We were warned with this to remove the trait of cruelty from our souls, and to plant delightful saplings in it - [namely] reliable mercy and kindnesses, as it is written (Deuteronomy 28:9), “and you shall walk in His ways.” And because it is possible not to shut his hand and to grace the poor person, but not in the way of mercy - like the matter that is written (Proverbs 12:10), “but the mercies of the wicked are cruelty” - therefore it is written, “Do not harden your heart.” And the punishment for cruelty is bad and bitter, as will be explained in the Gate of Cruelty (no longer extant), with God’s help. And our Rabbis, may their memory be blessed, said (Shabbat 151b), “‘And He will show you mercy and have compassion on you and multiply you’ (Deuteronomy 13:18) - anyone who has compassion for the creatures will receive compassion from Heaven, and anyone who does not have compassion for the creatures will not receive compassion from Heaven.”

6 ו

(ג) וְיֵשׁ דֵּעוֹת שֶׁאָסוּר לוֹ לָאָדָם לִנְהֹג בָּהֶן בְּבֵינוֹנִית אֶלָּא יִתְרַחֵק מִן הַקָּצֶה הָאֶחָד עַד הַקָּצֶה הָאַחֵר. וְהוּא גֹּבַהּ לֵב. שֶׁאֵין דֶּרֶךְ הַטּוֹבָה שֶׁיִּהְיֶה אָדָם עָנָו בִּלְבַד אֶלָּא שֶׁיִּהְיֶה שְׁפַל רוּחַ וְתִהְיֶה רוּחוֹ נְמוּכָה לִמְאֹד. וּלְפִיכָךְ נֶאֱמַר בְּמשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ (במדבר יב ג) "עָנָו מְאֹד" וְלֹא נֶאֱמַר עָנָו בִּלְבַד. וּלְפִיכָךְ צִוּוּ חֲכָמִים מְאֹד מְאֹד הֱוֵי שְׁפַל רוּחַ. וְעוֹד אָמְרוּ שֶׁכָּל הַמַּגְבִּיהַּ לִבּוֹ כָּפַר בָּעִקָּר שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים ח יד) "וְרָם לְבָבֶךָ וְשָׁכַחְתָּ אֶת ה' אֱלֹקֶיךָ". וְעוֹד אָמְרוּ בְּשַׁמָּתָא מַאן דְּאִית בֵּיהּ גַּסּוּת הָרוּחַ וַאֲפִלּוּ מִקְצָתָהּ. וְכֵן הַכַּעַס מִדָּה רָעָה הִיא עַד לִמְאֹד וְרָאוּי לָאָדָם שֶׁיִּתְרַחֵק מִמֶּנָּה עַד הַקָּצֶה הָאַחֵר. וִילַמֵּד עַצְמוֹ שֶׁלֹּא יִכְעֹס וַאֲפִלּוּ עַל דָּבָר שֶׁרָאוּי לִכְעֹס עָלָיו. וְאִם רָצָה לְהַטִּיל אֵימָה עַל בָּנָיו וּבְנֵי בֵּיתוֹ אוֹ עַל הַצִּבּוּר אִם הָיָה פַּרְנָס וְרָצָה לִכְעֹס עֲלֵיהֶן כְּדֵי שֶׁיַּחְזְרוּ לַמּוּטָב יַרְאֶה עַצְמוֹ בִּפְנֵיהֶם שֶׁהוּא כּוֹעֵס כְּדֵי לְיַסְּרָם וְתִהְיֶה דַּעְתּוֹ מְיֻשֶּׁבֶת בֵּינוֹ לְבֵין עַצְמוֹ כְּאָדָם שֶׁהוּא מְדַמֶּה כּוֹעֵס בִּשְׁעַת כַּעֲסוֹ וְהוּא אֵינוֹ כּוֹעֵס. אָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים הָרִאשׁוֹנִים כָּל הַכּוֹעֵס כְּאִלּוּ עוֹבֵד עֲבוֹדַת כּוֹכָבִים. וְאָמְרוּ שֶׁכָּל הַכּוֹעֵס אִם חָכָם הוּא חָכְמָתוֹ מִסְתַּלֶּקֶת מִמֶּנּוּ וְאִם נָבִיא הוּא נְבוּאָתוֹ מִסְתַּלֶּקֶת מִמֶּנּוּ. וּבַעֲלֵי כַּעַס אֵין חַיֵּיהֶם חַיִּים. לְפִיכָךְ צִוּוּ לְהִתְרַחֵק מִן הַכַּעַס עַד שֶׁיַּנְהִיג עַצְמוֹ שֶׁלֹּא יַרְגִּישׁ אֲפִלּוּ לַדְּבָרִים הַמַּכְעִיסִים וְזוֹ הִיא הַדֶּרֶךְ הַטּוֹבָה. וְדֶרֶךְ הַצַּדִּיקִים הֵן עֲלוּבִין וְאֵינָן עוֹלְבִין שׁוֹמְעִים חֶרְפָּתָם וְאֵינָם מְשִׁיבִין עוֹשִׂין מֵאַהֲבָה וּשְׂמֵחִים בְּיִסּוּרִים. וַעֲלֵיהֶם הַכָּתוּב אוֹמֵר (שופטים ה לא) "וְאֹהֲבָיו כְּצֵאת הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ בִּגְבֻרָתוֹ":

(3) And, yet, there are certain tendencies which man is forbidden to follow in the middle-way, but must distance himself from extreme to extreme. The good way is not merely that man be meek, but that he should be humble-spirited, then his spirit will be extremely lowly. This is the reason why it is said of Moses that he was very meek (Num. 12.3) and not merely meek. This is also the reason why the sages commanded saying: "Be exceedingly humble of spirit" (Pir. Ab. 4.4). They, moreover, said: "He who is of a haughty heart denies the head principle" (Sotah, 4b), even as it is said: "Thine heart be then lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God" (Deut. 8.14); and they also said: "Isolated be he in whom there is a haughty spirit, even a little thereof" (Sotah. 5a). So is anger an extremely evil tendency and it is proper for man to remove himself from it to the other extreme. One should teach himself not to get angry, even over a matter which befits anger. If one desires to engender awe in his children and his household, or in the public, if he be at the head of a community, even if he desire to get angry at them so as to bring them back to the good way, he should only act angry in their presence so as to reprove them, but his disposition must remain calm within himself, even as a man imitates, who is angry when the time calls forth anger but in reality he is not angry. The sages of yore said: "He who yields to anger is as if he worshiped idolatry".1See Nedarim, 22b. G. They also said: "Whosoever yields to anger, if he be a wise man his wisdom leaves him, and if he be a prophet his prophecy leaves him."2Pesahim, 66b. C. Verily the life of irritable persons is no life.3Pesahim, 113a. C. They have, therefore, commanded to be afar from anger, so that one will train himself not to mind even the things which do cause irritation, for such is the good way. The conduct of the just is to take insults but not give insults, hear themselves flouted but make no reply, do their duty as a work of love, and bear affliction cheerfully. Concerning them the Verse says: "But may those that love Him be as the rising of the sun in his might" (Judg. 5.31).

7 ז

Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Prophets (New York: Harper Collins Perennial Classics, 2001), 360

[A]nger is something that comes dangerously close to evil, yet it is wrong to identify it with evil… Like fire, it may be a blessing as well as a fatal thing — reprehensible when associated with malice, morally necessary as resistance to malice… Anger may touch off deadly explosives, while the complete absence of anger stultifies moral sensibility.

8 ח

Rabbi Pinchas of Koretz

Long ago, I conquered my anger and placed it in my pocket. When I have need of it, I take it out.

9 ט

ר' ברוקא חוזאה הוה שכיח בשוקא דבי לפט הוה שכיח אליהו גביה א"ל איכא בהאי שוקא בר עלמא דאתי א"ל לא

...אדהכי והכי אתו הנך תרי אתי א"ל הנך נמי בני עלמא דאתי נינהו אזל לגבייהו אמר להו מאי עובדייכו אמרו ליה אינשי בדוחי אנן מבדחינן עציבי אי נמי כי חזינן בי תרי דאית להו תיגרא בהדייהו טרחינן ועבדינן להו שלמא:

§ The Gemara relates another story about the righteousness of common people. Rabbi Beroka Ḥoza’a was often found in the market of Bei Lefet, and Elijah the Prophet would often appear to him. Once Rabbi Beroka said to Elijah: Of all the people who come here, is there anyone in this market worthy of the World-to-Come? He said to him: No...

In the meantime, two brothers came to the marketplace. Elijah said to Rabbi Beroka: These two also have a share in the World-to-Come. Rabbi Beroka went over to the men and said to them: What is your occupation? They said to him: We are jesters, and we cheer up the depressed. Alternatively, when we see two people who have a quarrel between them, we strive to make peace. It is said that for this behavior one enjoys the profits of his actions in this world, and yet his reward is not diminished in the World-to-Come.