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Section:  Avodah   Category: Innocent Observations
The Fires of Anger: The Death of Rav Rechumi and The Widow's Anguish

The Gemara in Kesuvos (62b) where discussing Amoraim who left their wives for extended periods of time to learn Torah says that Rav Rechumi died as a result of the anguish that he caused his wife by not arriving home Erev Yom Kippur, the expected time he arrived every year. As a tear fell from his wife's eye the floor under him suddenly collapsed and Rav Rechumi fell to his death.  Rav Chaim Shmuelivitz asks, certainly his wife had even greater anguish at the news that her husband passed away and was never going to come home so why was this an appropriate punishment?

Rav Chaim answers that if someone causes anguish to another person it is tantamount to starting a fire and will cause destruction like a fire. The destruction that is caused is not a punishment it is simply the natural byproduct of the fire that was started by means of causing anguish to another person.  Once it ravages out of control neither the one who ignited it or anyone else can decide where it causes damage and how far it can spread.  The fire takes on a life of its own and can swallow up both the victim and the arsonist without getting anyone's approval.  This is the destructive power of anger.