Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Cracking the Nut of Jealousy and Anger

 Special hike to the caves near Bat Ayin
I’ve always been a “peacenik,” even before I turned teenager. I never could understand why the whole world wasn’t able to get along in universal peace and brotherhood. I grew up in the aftermath of the 60's and had badges of “Make love not War” everywhere. At our family dinner tables we had long discussions. I couldn’t relate when my father mentioned “a harsh and cruel enemy.” Then my mother said something so simple I’ll never forget it. “As long as you sisters won’t stop fighting, there won’t be peace in the world.” Baruch Hashem as much as I used to fight with my sister, we are now the very best and closest friends. So now wouldn’t my mother agree that we are ready for redemption and world-peace? Actually, this week’s parasha interestingly enough teaches that sometimes it is necessary to distance ourselves from negative relationships even if it’s your own brother or sister. Sometimes a violent act, which may seem cruel on the outside, brings the greatest peace in the world, when the inside intention is most selfless and holy. It’s hard to understand, but our Parasha clearly teaches that Pinchas from the tribe of Levi brought peace by slaying the prince of the tribe of Shimon, his brother. I invite you to read on to get a glimpse on why, and practice the meditation for rectified jealousy.

With Blessings of the Torah and the Land

Chana Bracha Siegelbaum

Read "Soul Reincarnations" - Rebbetzin's commentary to Haftorat Pinchas

Parasha Meditation Pinchas
Bamidbar 25:10-29:39
Cracking the Nut of Jealousy and Anger,
Removing the Peal of Judgment

Severing Unhealthy Relationship for the sake of Restoring Peace
Parashat Pinchas teaches us about rectifying jealousy and anger – קנא – kina, by unifying judgment – din – דין with its source in Hashem’s infinite kindness – chesed – חסד. By separating the undesirable elements of the tribe of Shimon from the Jewish people, and thus severing the tribe of Levi from its unhealthy relationship with Shimon, Pinchas succeeded in restoring Shalom to the world. By rectifying their innate attribute of zealous anger, the Levites through their Temple service, serve as a conduit for peace and brotherhood for the entire people. Pinchas, did not act out of personal spite, but only for the sake of allowing Hashem’s kindness to shine, by means of removing the blocks standing in the way. By expressing rectified kina – (jealousy/vengeance), completely devoid of any ego, he unified judgment with mercy, and was consequently rewarded with Hashem’s “covenant of Shalom (peace).”[1] Shalom with its letter ש – shin standing for אש – esh – fire and its letter מ –mem standing for מים – mayim – water denotes the unification of opposite elements. Pinchas also succeeded in rectifying the previous expressions of anger of his tribe Levi, after Levi and Shimon took vengeance on the people of Shechem for raping their sister, Dinah.[2] When the tribes of Shimon and Levi are joined together, their tendency for anger and vengeance can go overboard. Therefore, on his deathbed, Ya’acov reproached them saying: “Shimon and Levi are brothers; weapons of violence is their kinship.”[3]

Overcoming Anger through Invoking Hashem’s Perpetual Presence
The word קנא – kina usually translated as jealousy is also linked to judgment and anger. The root of this word is mentioned three times in the opening verse of Parashat Pinchas.[4] Its gematria (numerical value), 151 (kuf =100, nun =50, alef = 1) equals that of the name of G-d E-k-ye – א-ק-י-ה when each of its letters are spelled out as follows alef spelled out alef, peh, lamed =111+ heh spelled out heh, heh = 10 + yud spelled out yud, vav, dalet = 20 + heh spelled out heh, heh = 10. Together (111+10+ 20+10) adds up to 151 the exact gematria of the word קנא – kina. This name of G-d (א-ק-י-ה) which was first revealed to Moshe at the burning bush, gives us the reassurance that Hashem will always be with us.[5] Therefore, meditating on this name enables us to overcome anger.[6]

Meditative Permutations for Overcoming the Three Aspects of Kina

There are three types of vengeance alluded to in the story of Pinchas: “By avenging,” “My vengeance,” and “I did not destroy the children of Israel in My vengeance.”[7] The root קנא – kina mentioned three times in our verse alludes to three aspects of anger/ jealousy/vengeance which can be overcome by meditating on three different kinds of permutations of Hashem’s names. The first is the spelled out name E-k-ye א-ק-י-ה as mentioned above. Arizal recommends, when one gets angry, to meditate during the morning prayer on the Name Ekyeh spelled out. He reveals that the numerical value of this Name קנא – 151 is the same as that of the Hebrew word for “anger” כעס – ka’as with the kollel.[8] The second permutation is more complicated. Arizal mentions to meditate on the squared name of E-k-ye א-ק-י-ה which also adds up to קנא – 151 during the afternoon prayer. This entails meditating 1 time on alef squared, 25 times on heh squared, 100 times on yud squared and 25 times on heh squared (1+25+100+25=151).

In order to obliterate the third aspect and the root of קנא, which is being over judgmental, Arizal recommends to meditate during the evening prayers, on the Divine Names Adni Elokim, (65+86) the combined numerical values of which also equal 151. Note that both of these names denote judgment.

Cracking the Nut of Jealousy and Anger, Removing the Peal of Judgment
The three aspects of vengeance are alluded to in the verse: “I descended to the garden of nuts.”[9] The numerical value of the word for “garden of” ginat, gimel-nun-tav is 453, which is 3 times 151. The nut actually has three klipot (husks) the outer soft husk that disintegrates when the nut is ripe, the hard outer shell, and the soft inner peal that adheres to the nut itself. In order to reveal the inner goodness of the soul, we must discard each of the shells of קנא – kina. Learning not to judge others is the most difficult aspect of קנא – kina to overcome. It is characterized by the inner peal which we usually eat together with the nut. Although I didn’t find in the Arizal’s writing explicit differentiation between each of the three aspects of קנא – kina, it seems to me that the outer aspect is anger, going deeper into the anger one arrives at jealousy, underneath which the negative emotion of being overly judgmental is situated. Pinchas was able to sweeten the judgment in its root through his deepest care and mercy for the children of Israel, who were dying in the plague. By acting with this motivation, he channeled judgment to serve as a means of recognizing good and evil and separating between them. Thus he succeeded in alleviating Hashem’s anger, stop the plague,[10] and atone for the children of Israel.[11]

Make yourself comfortable in your place, and take some deep healing breaths. Keep breathing as you try to remember last time you felt jealous, or any particular time that you especially remember being jealous at someone. Jealousy is a combination of fear and anger. Fear of losing something, and anger at someone who seems to be taking away what you feel belongs only to you.

Recognize and accept your emotions. Tell yourself, as you breathe deeply, even if I am jealous I still truly love and appreciate myself. Get in touch with and dissect your feeling. Ask yourself whether your jealousy consists of more anger or fear, and why. Where in your body exactly does your jealousy reside? A gripping sensation in your stomach is a sign of fear, burning tightness in your shoulders and jar is most likely anger. Breathe deeply and relax your jar, shoulders and stomach. Don’t allow your face to show jealousy or anger.

Identify what your jealousy is teaching you about yourself and what is important to you. If someone talking to a friend of yours makes you jealous, personal relationships may be important to you. If you’re jealous about money, you may have an underlying need for financial security. Ask yourself, “Why am I jealous over this? What is making me jealous? What am I trying to keep? Why do I feel threatened?” When you begin to understand what makes you jealous, you can begin to take positive steps to maintain those things, without the cloud of negative emotion that accompanies jealousy.

Search for underlying false beliefs that make your jealousy flare up. Everyone walk around with negative “stories” such as, “I don’t deserve to get married.” “People only befriend me when they can get something out of me.” You can change your feelings by changing your “stories.” Choose nurturing and supportive beliefs and gradually your anger and jealousy will disappear.

Now visualize the name of Hashem E-k-ye א-ק-י-ה. The letter א-alef- then ה-heh, then י-yud and again ה-heh. Inhale א-alef, exhale ה-heh, inhale י-yud, exhale ה-heh. Repeat four times. If you are able to, visualize the name E-k-ye א-ק-י-ה spelled out, א-ל-ף – ה-ה – י-ו-ד – ה-ה with appropriate breathing. Inhale and feel how Hashem is always with you. Exhale feel how He provides you with exactly what you need in order to fulfill your mission in life.

Look for your own good qualities and make a mental list of all the blessings in your life for which you are grateful. Keep breathing slowly and deeply as you thank Hashem for each of His gifts to you. When you emerge from the meditation into real life, put on a non-jealous facade, while you work on overcoming jealousy. Eventually, working your way through your feelings, the facade will become real. In the meantime you will protect yourself from appearing jealous to others.

An additional way to overcome jealousy and anger is through immersing in a mikvah. The numerical value of the word mikveh מקוה (mem-kuf-vav-heh), is also 151, the same as that of the word for jealousy קנא – kina, or anger כעס --ka’as, plus the kolel.[12] After working on your jealousy and anger and after trying the above meditation, going to the mikvah will work wonders, try it!

[1] Bamidbar 25:12.
Bereishit 34:25.
Ibid. 49:5.
Bamidbar 25:11.
Shemot 3:14, “אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה”.
Based on Arizal, Sha’ar HaPesukim, Parashat Pinchas.
Bamidbar 25:11.
Including counting the word itself as one. Arizal, Sha’ar Ruach HaKodesh, Remedy #13.
Song of Songs 6:11.
Bamidbar 25:8.
Ibid 13.
Arizal, Sha’ar Ruach HaKodesh, Remedy #15.


  1. Thank you Rebbetzen Chana Bracha!For a long time I wanted to ask you your advice regarding this subject. The meditation is very relaxing. Thank you so much for your time to share such wonderful insights into Torah and giving us a woman's perspective of Torah and Mitzvot.

    You should have many blessings.

  2. Great please do feel free to ask me advise,
    Amen to your blessing! wonder who you are!