We have been focusing this month on the middah of jealousy, and trying to understand how we can rise above our jealousy and feel only good will toward our fellow Jews.
First, we explained how our feelings of jealousy are all based on the assumption that if my friend is enjoying something good, then I deserve to have it also. But the truth is that this line of reasoning is mistaken. Hashem created each of us to fulfill a different role on this earth, and He therefore gave each of us a different set of “tools” to help us fulfill our unique roles.
Just because my friend has a well-paying job or above-average intelligence doesn’t mean that I need those things also. Perhaps Hashem gave me a lower income or a lower IQ because perhaps part of my role in life is to struggle to overcome these challenges, and thereby make a great kiddush Hashem. We will never really know why we were given each of our “tools” but we do know that everyone is different and needs different things.
Next, we explained how jealousy really stems from a lack of bitachon in Hashem. If we can really internalize the truth that Hashem is always taking care of my needs – like an infant who trusts its mother – we will feel much more at peace, and not worry about the things we don’t have. We will recognize that if I don’t have something, it means I don’t need it. If there is something that I need, I can rest assured that Hashem will give it to me.
Finally, we considered how the ultimate test of our jealousy is how we react when other people are blessed with success. If your neighbor gets a promotion at work, do you celebrate and show him how happy you are? Or do you grit your teeth and barely manage to croak out a measly “mazal tov”?
Someone who has truly internalized the realization that Hashem takes care of all my needs – and no one can take anything away from me – will not feel jealous of other people. In fact, he will do exactly the opposite – he will rejoice in other people’s successes. Even if we are not yet feeling up to this level of rejoicing with our friends in our hearts, it is still a big step and achievement to at least make an effort to express happiness to others when they are blessed with good things, and to daven for their wellbeing.
One Nation With One G-D
Aside from the above concepts, there is one more idea that can be very helpful in alleviating feelings of jealousy.
As Rabbeinu Bachye1 explains, the root of all hatred is separation, and the root of all love is unity. The more we feel separate from our fellow Jews, the more likely we are to feel anger, bitterness, and jealousy. But the more we realize that we are all connected, the more we will feel love of each other and celebrate in each other’s successes.
What makes all Jews connected to each other? It is the fact that we were all created to serve the same purpose, like many cogs and wheels within a big machine. We are all servants of Hashem.
Just as my left hand does not get upset at my right hand if my right hand makes a mistake – because both of my hands are here to serve the same ultimate purpose – so too, every Jew is like another “limb” in the “body” of Klal Yisrael.2 We are all working toward the same goal of serving Hashem, so we need to work together and see ourselves as one.
When another Jew is in pain, that means that part of me is in pain. And when another Jew is happy, that means that part of me is happy.
The more we see ourselves as unified parts of the same “body,” the less we will feel jealous of each other and the more we will celebrate each other’s successes.
As we move on to focus on other middos in the coming months, let’s try to retain this global perspective that we are all here to serve the same purpose, and there is no need to feel jealous of our fellow Jews.
Sources:  Kad HaKemach: Sinas Chinam, also see HaKtav V’HaKabbalah: Shemos 23:4;  See Gemara Yerushalmi Nedarim 9:4 and Sheim Mishmuel Mishpatim 677
Once a day, do something to demonstrate your recognition that we are all connected – so whatever benefits your friend will benefit you, too.
- Smile at another Jew while thinking “We are both part of the same nation, working toward the same goal.”
- Help another Jew or give them something they would appreciate.
- Tell someone how happy you are that they have something nice.
- Daven for another person’s needs.