Turn Your Rage into Outrage

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The internet has become a very angry place and “rage bait” influencers are in large part to blame.  More clicks means more money and the more enraged you can make people, the more they will click. If you’re not familiar, “rage-baiting” is described as posting “a video specifically designed to make you mad so that you interact more with the video.” Social media platforms design algorithms that prey on the temptation towards rage and then draw people into rage loops that continuously present anger-inducing material (and keep users engaged with their platforms).  Research shows that people are far more likely to share or echo angry sentiments than content that elicits any other emotion, including joy. Some suggest our generation is addicted to rage manifesting itself on our roads, in our relationships, and in our mental and physical health.


Since October 7, if you love Israel and the Jewish people, you don’t need an internet connection or access to social media to be filled with rage.  It isn’t manufactured or manipulated or ‘baited”; it is quite merited. Indeed, over the last seven months, there have been so many rage-inducing comments, people, events, and things it is hard to know which is worst. 


For example, consider the last ten days alone:


·      The UN held a moment of silence for the Butcher of Tehran.

·      The US Senate Chaplain offered prayers for Iran for the same loss.

·      The US State Department also sent condolences to Tehran.

·      The ICC equated evil Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar with Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu.

·    Germany, the country that perpetrated a genocide and the greatest atrocity in history, said they would issue an arrest warrant for Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu.

·      The IJC ordered Israel to stop its Rafah operation.

·      Nobel laureate Maria Ressa delivered Harvard’s commencement speech filled with vile, explicit antisemitic tropes.

·      New, horrific video was released of female IDF soldiers being taken by Hamas on Oct. 7.

·      Bodies of hostages who were killed on October 7th were recovered.

·   Israel continues to be accused of causing a famine in Gaza despite a new study that found food supply to Gaza is more than sufficient for the population’s needs and only 54 percent of the pallets transferred into Gaza were dispatched by UN and humanitarian agencies operating in Gaza.

·      Ireland, Spain and Norway said they will recognize a Palestinian state.

·   Israel was falsely accused of intentionally targeting civilians in a refugee camp in Rafah even though they struck two senior Hamas in the Tel Sultan area of western Rafah which is outside of the “humanitarian zone.”  Moreover, the IDF released an intercepted phone call between two Gaza residents in which they suggest that shrapnel from an Israeli airstrike caused the detonation of Hamas munitions hidden inside or near the refugee camp.


Sadly, there is no shortage of things to be enraged over.  But here is the thing – rage isn’t productive, rage is never the solution.  Rage is forwarding videos and ranting at the Shabbos table.  It may make you feel better (it likely won’t), but it surely won’t actually change anything.

Don’t feel rage.  Instead, get outraged.  What is the difference? Rage destroys, it consumes, it obliterates.  Outrage is constructive, it produces, it repairs.  Rage is a lower brain reaction, it is a pure emotion with no intellectual or cognitive driver.  Outrage is a healthy reaction to an outrageous event or outrageous behavior that calls for a response, for action.  Rage demolishes and outrage builds.  Rage is part of the problem.  Outrage leads to the solution. 

Don’t indulge the emotion of rage. Channel your outrage into taking action, into being part of the response. You don’t need to pick up a weapon and enter Gaza or walk through a Hamas homeless shelter at Harvard to be doing something.  For example, write letters. This matters.  We recently hosted Congressman Ritchie Torres on Behind the Bima and he shared how important writing, even to our friends and allies, is:


Look, members of Congress are human. You know, we have morale and we need motivation. You know, we're flooded with hateful calls because of our support for Israel.  And so I feel like those of us in the pro-Israel community have to be as visibly and vocally pro-Israel as the other side is anti-Israel.


We have to match the intensity of the other side because in politics, intensity is often destiny. And so I would encourage people to engage with their members of congress. Lobby their members of congress and attempt to persuade them if they're wavering or if they're on the wrong side of the issue and then provide moral support to to your allies.


You know were it not for the moral support that I've gotten from the Jewish community, this moment would be an emotional struggle for me because I paid a heavy political and personal price.


There is a wonderful WhatsApp group called Letters and Emails that posts sample texts, links or email addresses of whom we should thank each day for standing with the Jewish community and Israel and whom we should protest.  You can shoot off letters and emails while waiting at carpool, over your lunch break, on the checkout line at the supermarket.  It is easy and organized and there is no excuse not to be part of the movement that is making a real difference.  Join it here.


Two examples just from the last week:


Ms. Rachel, a popular YouTuber and social media personality with 10 million subscribers, put out a video last week announcing she would be sending money to help the poor children of Gaza without any mention of Israel, Oct 7, or the hostages.  She was bombarded with letters and a few days later put out a new video praying for all children and innocent people, including in Israel and including the hostages.  


The Mayor of Doral, Christi Fraga, proposed a resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.  She got a deluge of letters and online attention, much of it organized by a BRS member.  Soon after she held a press conference to correct the resolution and now stands with Israel.  Her turnaround earned headlines like, “Florida mayor praised for ‘courage, character’ after apology for supporting permanent ceasefire.” These are but a few examples of how channeling outrage into advocacy and outspokenness can make a difference.


In the introduction to Chovos HaTalmidim, the Piascentzner Rebbe, Hy”d writes to parents and educators about how qualities and characteristics aren’t inherently good or bad but rather need to be directed positively.  He pleads with them not to extinguish or eliminate the fire inside young people but to channel it productively:

Are the principal and teacher able to imagine the great benefit they can bring out from the bad temper of the angry child when they delve inside him and draw him near, so that his heart and soul burn with self-sacrifice for God? His anger will turn into holy fire - every act of service will burn like glowing coals; all of his words spoken for God, in Torah study and prayer, will be with a voice that thunders and draws out fiery flames. And see the explanation of the Alter Rebbe, R. Shneur Zalman of Liadi in his Siddur on Kegavna - and these are his words: The passion of anger that spins off from the passion in the heart, and any man that is angry by nature, are prone to be enthused with the glowing fire of fervor for God's service.

No matter what is happening in the world, no matter who or what tries to bait you, always remember, rage is not all the rage.  Take that fire in your belly and instead of indulging the feeling of rage, channel it into outrage and action.  Be enthused with the glowing fire of fervor to fight for the Jewish people, to stand with Israel and to proudly practice and promote Hashem and His Torah.


Write letters, make phone calls, donate money.  If we refuse to be indifferent or apathetic, if we find our voices and our influence, if we are on fire, we can dispel much of the darkness and light up the world together.