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  • Yehuda Pevzner

Is Jealousy a Bad Thing?


As a small child, Reb Zalman Aharon (the “Raza”), the older brother of Rebbe Sholom DovBer of Lubavitch (the “Rashab”), often complained that he was noticeably shorter than his younger brother.

One day, the Raza sneaked up behind his brother and pushed him lightly into a small ditch. As the Rashab stood up in surprise, the Raza seized the moment and pointed out that now he was taller. Rabbi Shmuel of Lubavitch, the father of the two boys, observed the entire episode. The Rebbe asked for a chair, ordered the Raza to stand on it, and asked him, “Tell me, who’s taller now?” The Raza answered excitedly that yet again he was taller. “Aha!” said Rabbi Shmuel. “There you are! To be bigger than your friend, there is no need to pull him down. Simply elevate yourself!”


 

In this week’s Torah portion, Parshat Korach, we learned about Korach’s jealousy. His envy led him from being one of the richest men amongst the Jewish nation to being buried alive. Obviously, jealousy is quite a big deal and should be avoided at all costs.


But if jealousy is so bad, why is the Parsha being named after him? Shouldn’t we stay away from even mentioning his name?


Another interesting part of this story happens when Korach approached Moshe with the complaint that he, too, wanted to be Kohen Gadol like Aharon, Moshe’s brother. Moshe’s response was that he, too, yearned to be the Kohen Gadol! Was Moshe jealous, too?! And if so, is jealousy something good or bad?


Jealousy in and of itself is not something bad. The question is what do you do after the desire arrives. Do you ask yourself how you can elevate yourself or do you look to overrun others and put everyone down? Jealousy can be a great impetus for greater growth. We just need to know how to control and tame the rage.


Wishing you all a Shabbat Shalom!


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