I recently was searching for a spot in the Mamilla parking lot in Jerusalem. Empty parking spots were scarce, and the traffic in the lot was building. I let a driver merge into the lane in front of me seconds before a spot opened up. The driver quickly moved into position to snag the spot, ignoring the car in front of her that had been patiently waiting to reverse into the spot. The waiting driver began honking and waving, indicating his position of seniority in the queue and reminding his rival of accepted parking lot etiquette. Oblivious to his pleas and warnings, the rogue driver darted into the spot, victorious.
Hoping to avoid the inevitable confrontation, I was anxious to move ahead and continue my own parking search, when I spotted a car leaving up ahead, just in front of the car that had been waiting to reverse into the original spot. I was certain that the driver who had just lost the battle for his spot would grab the newly opened one. Instead, to my amazement (and delight), the driver ignored the open spot and reversed to confront his nemesis. I happily drove past the confrontation and into waiting parking spot, stunned at the decision of the driver to give up a readily available spot in favor of a confrontation. That’s when I realized that the driver had probably not even seen the empty spot. He was literally blinding by his anger. All he could see was someone who had wronged him, and the opportunity for vengeance.
How often do we miss seeing good things because we are preoccupied with thoughts of anger and revenge? How many opportunities do we pass up because we’re too busy feeling angry and hurt about how we feel someone has treated us, instead of learning from our mistakes and moving forward with our lives?
The Sages of the Talmud compare anger to idolatry. Anger makes us ignore God, the beauty of creation, and everything that is good and loving, and instead makes us slaves to our own false gods: ego and pride.
The month of Nisan is a time of freedom and redemption. Pesach is when we destroy our “leavened” (chametz), which represents our ego and pride, and trade it for modesty and moderation, represented by Matzah. Let’s harness the special energy of this month to free ourselves from the anger that blinds us and prevents us from fully enjoying life and fulfilling our true potential.