I recall reading once that when one is hit with a stick that one does not get angry at the stick. This lesson went on to explain that because everything is G-d's will that the man who cause you harm is like the stick. He would not be able to harm you if it was not G-d's will. Though the culprit has freewill and is responsible, anger at what happen to you is substituting your will for that of G-d and thus a form of idol worship. I thought this came from the Baal Shem Tov but cannot find it.

  • 1
    Do you mean this passage in BT Shab. 105b? – Oliver Dec 10 '17 at 0:41
  • @Oliver doesn't sound like it – robev Dec 10 '17 at 0:48
  • He doesn't mention idol worship but Sefer HaChinuch #241 says that everything that happens to a person is Hashem's Will . Cf. Ohr HaChaim to Bereishis 37:21 – robev Dec 10 '17 at 0:54
  • I'm almost positive that Ramba"m mentions this reasoning exactly. I think it would be in one of his first books, Sefer Ahava, is it? I'll see if I can find it. – DanF Dec 10 '17 at 2:46
  • @DanF Sefer Mada, but you’re close. – DonielF Dec 10 '17 at 15:03

Rambam in Hilchos Deos 2:3 writes:

אמרו חכמים הראשונים: כל הכועס כאילו עובד עבודת כוכבים

The early sages said: Anyone who gets angry, it’s as if he worshipped idolatry.

Kesef Mishnah (there) points to Shabbos 105b as his source:

ר"ש בן אלעזר אומר משום חילפא בר אגרא שאמר משום ר' יוחנן בן נורי המקרע בגדיו בחמתו והמשבר כליו בחמתו והמפזר מעותיו בחמתו יהא בעיניך כעובד ע"ז שכך אומנתו של יצה"ר היום אומר לו עשה כך ולמחר אומר לו עשה כך עד שאומר לו עבוד ע"ז והולך ועובד

א"ר אבין מאי קראה (תהלים פא, י) לא יהיה בך אל זר ולא תשתחוה לאל נכר איזהו אל זר שיש בגופו של אדם הוי אומר זה יצר הרע

R’ Shimon Ben Elazar said in the name of Chilfa bar Agra, who said in the name of R’ Yochanan Ben Nuri: One who tears his clothing in anger, or who smashed vessels in his anger, or who scatters money in his anger - he should be in your eyes like an idolater. For this is the way of the Yetzer Hara: Today it tells him to do this, and tomorrow it tells him to do that, until it tells him to worship idolatry, and he goes and worships.

R’ Avin said: What is [the meaning of] that which is written: “There shall not be within you a strange god, nor shall you now to a foreign god”? What “strange god” is there inside the body of a person [i.e. “within you”]? You must say - this is the evil inclination.

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