When Reb Noson heard that his son was having a hard time controlling his temper, he gently encouraged him, “My dear son, for God’s sake, have mercy on yourself and on your family, and refrain from acting out in anger. If you don’t let anything anger or irritate you, you will be happy in this world and in the next!
“Anger and resentment can cause so much damage, may God protect us. Our Sages teach that the furious person gains nothing from his temper, other than feeling overwrought. Any benefit that one hopes to gain through anger could have been achieved much more effectively through calm discussion. As the verse states, ‘The words of the wise, when spoken calmly, are heard.’’’
Rebbe Nachman gave a powerful example of the benefit of finding workable strategies for avoiding anger.
One cold winter day, a Breslover chassid paid Rebbe Nachman a visit. He was surprised to be met by the acrid smell of smoke billowing through the open front door. He ran into the house and saw that the wood in the potbellied stove desperately needed tending, but the housemaid hadn’t done it. He raised a ruckus and opened some windows. Then he explained to the young girl just how dangerous her daydreaming could have been. After that, he approached the Rebbe’s room.
Upon entering, it became clear that this room, too, had been filled with smoke just moments before. The chassid wondered aloud why the Rebbe had not brought the housemaid’s oversight to her attention. Was there some kind of deep reason behind his inaction?
Rebbe Nachman answered patiently, “The helper isn’t that attentive and it often takes a few times to get her to do her job. It’s human nature that the first time one asks a hired worker to do what is obviously her job and should require no reminders, one still uses a pleasant tone of voice. The second time, one raises his voice. The third time, one gets angry. I therefore ignore all of her slip-ups. It is so much better to remain silent from the outset!”
Based on Alim LiTerufah #446; Siach Sarfey Kodesh III:107