The Midrash teaches that there were two wealthy people in the world — one, a Jew named Korach, the other, a gentile named Haman.
They both lost their wealth as well as their lives because they allowed jealousy to consume them. In addition to wealth, Korach had everything that a man could dream of. He was the descendent of a noble family, a cousin of Moses. He enjoyed respect and admiration and was also blessed with a beautiful family, and yet, he was discontented.
He couldn`t bear that Moses and Aaron held leadership positions, but of course, he could not admit to such base emotions. Therefore, like all individuals who have hidden agendas, he camouflaged his intentions and pretended to be a champion of the people, proclaiming that Moses was guilty of nepotism, and that, in general, he had assumed too much authority. “After all”, he argued, “the entire assembly is holy. They all heard the voice of G-d, so why do you exalt yourself…?” (Numbers, 16:3). In vain did Moses try to reason with Korach. His jealousy was such that he was closed to all of Moses` imprecations and pleas.
King Solomon teaches us that jealousy is so pernicious, so deadly a disease, that it rots your bones. Once it gets hold of you, it takes on a life of its own and infects your entire being. A jealous person is always annoyed; his countenance conveys anger. He has no peace of mind or pleasure in life because he`s always thinking that someone else has it better. He can`t even learn Torah or pray properly because jealousy impairs his level of concentration and peace of mind.
In our highly competitive society, it is important for us to absorb this lesson. Jealousy is sheer foolishness that leads to self-destruction. G-d created all of us with unique gifts, unique missions, and for us to measure our own attainments by those of others can only lead to failure and misery.
How do we overcome jealousy? By remembering that there is a G-d above us who provided us with whatever we have, and He knows best what we require to fulfill the purpose of our lives.
A story is told about a man who complained to a Rebbe that his competitor was doing much better than he. “What am I doing wrong?” he asked.
“You are running too many businesses,” the Rebbe answered.
Startled, the man said, “But Rebbe, I have only one little store.”
“Then why are you looking at your competitor? Concentrate on your own business, do the best you can, develop your own abilities and then you will succeed.”
This is a message for all of us. Let`s focus on our own strengths and potential, for that is the only way to find blessing and peace in life.
By: Rabbi Osher Jungreis