Ramat was a small town.  Some said that it was smaller than small, as everyone knew everyone else's business, and were related to each other by marriage.  Jacob was the town accountant and was responsible for collecting taxes, and was always cheerful and friendly, tipping his hat to everyone he met. Over time the people of Ramat noticed that Jacob's personality began to change.  Rather than smile at passersby, he grimaced, did not tip his hat, and mumbled angry words under his breath. When he went to market he complained that the meat was spoiled, and that the vegetables were old.

He starting fighting with his neigbors, and put a "Keep Off" sign on the path across his property that the town's children used as a shortcut to walk to school. The straw that broke the camel’s back, was when the Rabbi, passing by his house,  heard Jacob cursing his wife and children in a loud voice.

The town Rabbinical court was convened, and Jacob was called before them to explain his anger and bad behavior. The people of the town each told their story before the court.  His wife was the last to speak, and said that Jacob was impossible to live with anymore! When all the testimonies were finished, Jacob was told to step forward.  "What do you have to say for yourself, and why should we not send you away?" asked the Chief Rabbi of the Court. Jacob bowed his head and asked the Rabbi if he could speak privately with him for a few moments. 

Once they were alone, Jacob broke down in tears, and hugged the Rabbi. "My mother has been very sick, and the doctors can do nothing for her," said Jacob.  "She made me promise not to tell anyone because she is a proud woman, and her illness has been weighing me down with guilt and anger", sobbed Jacob.  "I wish I could do something for her, and that is why I have been behaving badly."  After listening, the Rabbi motioned for Jacob to go back in front of the court.

"I rule that Jacob should be given a hug by everyone in the town, followed by a community fast, and prayers for his mother", shouted the Rabbi. And you know a funny thing happened after this; Jacob went back to his normal cheerful personality, his mother got better, and Ramat the smaller than small town learned a valuable lesson.

Sometimes people are angry for reasons that we do not know, and take it out on others, when in reality all they need is someone to listen, and be kind to them.  So the next time you see an angry person, do not be offended.  You must pull them aside, and ask them what they are angry about.  A little hug wouldn't hurt either!  And so ends the story of Jacob the angry man!

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About the Author:

Dr. Harry Hamburger is a neuro-ophthalmologist, who also has a Masters degree and certification as a Family and Medical mediator. He is called upon to do ethical consults at local hospitals in the greater Miami, Florida area where he lives.

Married to Claudia, the Hamburgers have two boys - Jordan 15, and Joshua 9.  Part of Jordan’s bar mitzvah celebration consisted of visiting Israel, where he read part of his Torah portion on top of Masada.  Joshua is a very spiritual young boy who lecturers his Dad daily on proper behavior.

After visiting Israel twice, Dr. Hamburger says, “I feel like it is my real home, and that I am living in exile in Miami.  I hope one day to have a home in Israel.” The doctor is a serious student of both Chabad and Breslov Chasidism, and supports both. Dr. Hamburger is also a long time benefactor of the Lev LaLev Fund.



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