by: Harav Yitzchak Ginsburgh
Anthropomorphism (16 letters!) begins with attributing to God the human characteristic of anger. Anger results from corporeality. My body differentiates between me and you, making me not you (both in matter and spirit), thus inviting sentiments of dissatisfaction with you. Dissatisfaction results in anger.
In the Torah we find God getting angry at man, when man sins. From anger comes punishment. Likewise, God is happy with man when he merits, and rewards him for his good deeds. Although “reward for good is always more than punishment for evil,” as an anthropomorphism, God’s finding pleasure with man is simply the counterpart, a derivative so to speak, of His getting angry. Anger, dissatisfaction, is more human-like than satisfaction. Man’s essential corporeality gives rise to anger, which thereafter can be appeased and transformed into pleasure and reward.
Maimonides explains that since God is changeless (as explicit in the Bible) He does not get angry! Anger is the most primal change of composure in the psyche of man, and as such the beginning of anthropomorphism. All anthropomorphisms that appear in the Bible are God speaking to us in our language, for we cannot fathom Him and His ways.
The lesson: The less we emphasize our bodies, the less we feel our “otherness” from one another, the less our composure changes, and the less we become angry.
King David says in Psalms: “A moment in His wrath [= body, as we saw], life in His will.” From this phrase we learn that anger is a time-bound phenomenon (and exists for no more than a fleeting second). God is above time (an essentially corporal phenomenon, dependant upon a body in motion, as explained by Maimonides), but to us it appears as though, due to our misbehavior, He becomes angry. To the extent that we transcend our bodies so do we shorten our experience of God’s anger, reducing the experience to no more than a split second. To nullify anger altogether – our own innate characteristic of anger and our experience of God’s anger – is to live forever, “life in His will.”