Emotions are like waves. You can’t stop them from coming, but you can decide whether to surf the waves or drown in them.


Rabbi David Bassous has great wisdom and a wondrous talent for summarizing the wisdom of others. With some of my own adaptation, he has spoken of emotions, particularly anger, as follows:

  • Do not rebuke a person while they are angry.
  • Apologize first but don’t stay around people who hurt you.
  • To push off anger, keep things in perspective.  Life is too short.  This is a relatively small matter, a tiny insignificant thing.
  • Keep rapid responses at bay by acting as if a camera is always upon you.
  • Rabbi Bassous tells the story of Rabbi Hillel who was famous for not losing his temper.  On a bet, someone tries to anger Hillel by constantly interrupting his bathing.  Eventually, it is the bettor who loses his temper over Hillel not losing his.  He says “Rabbi, you made me lose $400 on this bet that I could make you angry.”  Hillel: “Better you should lose your $400 than I should lose my temper.”
  • Stay away from volcanos.  Sometimes people purposely visit volcanos.  Don’t.
  • The skill of decreasing another’s anger is useful but sometimes elusive.  King Solomon teaches that a negative, nasty response increases anger.  A gentle response, sometimes with an apology, decreases anger.

Listen to or read Rabbi Bassous here and here.