Chapter 5 - He does not maintain His anger forever.
This attribute is different from those mentioned in our previous classes. For even though a person persists in sinning, the Holy One, Blessed Be He, does not persist in His anger. And even when He does become angry, it is not forever. Rather, He assuages His anger even if a person does not repent, as we find in the days of Yaravam ben Yoash, when the Holy One, Blessed Be He, restored the borders of the Land of Israel (II Melachim 14): Even though the people were unrepentant worshippers of calf idols, He had compassion for them.
Because of this attribute of not maintaining His anger forever.
On the contrary, He deliberately mitigates His anger, even though the sin still exists. And He does not exact punishment; rather, He waits hopefully and compassionately for sinners to repent. This is the intention of the verse "Not forever will He do battle, nor will He bear a grudge for eternity" (Tehillim 103:9). Rather, the Holy One, Blessed Be He, conducts Himself with both tenderness and severity, as Israel's benefit requires.
This is a fitting attribute for a person to acquire in his conduct towards his fellow. Even if one is permitted to chastise his friend or his children severely, and they would accept the rebuke, this is no reason to harshen his chastisement and persist in his wrath, even if he is naturally angry.
Instead, he should assuage his anger and not linger over it, even where it would be permissible to do SO.
This idea is comparable to our sages' explanation of the verse 'When you see the donkey of your hated enemy struggling under his load..., azov ta'azov imo - you shall surely help him" (Shemot 23:5). They explain the cause of the hatred mentioned in the verse as being that he saw his enemy transgressing, and being a lone witness, he cannot testify in the rabbinical court. Thus, he is permitted to hate the fellow as regards his sin. Even so, the Torah demands, azov ta'azov imo - "you shall surely help him," meaning, "abandon (azov) the anger in your heart." Indeed, it is a religious obligation to draw the person closer with love, for perhaps this method will succeed. This is exactly the attribute of "He does not maintain His anger forever."