In this week’s Torah portion, we learn about the rebellion which Korach lead against Moses. Our sages teach us that at the cause of the rebellion was jealousy. Moses had appointed Elitzafon ben Uziel to be the leader of the Kehatite family and Korach felt that he should have received that appointment. This lead Korach to claim that Moses was practicing nepotism by Moses becoming the king and leader of the Jews and then giving his brother the second to highest position of high priest. In truth, G-d had told Moses to appoint his brother as high priest, but Korach’s jealousy lead him to claim that Moses was lying and made the appointment on his own.
Many times jealousy leads a person to find fault in the person he is jealous of and rally other people against that person. Tremendous pain is afflicted on other people because of jealousy. Therefore, the Torah warns us not to allow ourselves to get caught in the net of jealousy.
While at times we must force ourselves not to think thoughts of jealousy, the Torah also gives us explanations that make it easier to overcome this emotion. The Torah teaches us that each person has his own unique gifts and mission and although it seems that the other person is better off than yourself, in truth you possess certain gifts and advantages that the person you covet does not have.
There is a folk tale that brings out this point:
Once a fisherman on the Mediterranean sat in his little boat, gazing at the splendor of a magnificent palace on the shore. Just then the prince, whose palace it was, appeared on the balcony and the fisherman seeing him surrounded by such splendor envied him, saying “Oh, I wish I were that prince! A beautiful palace, delicious foods, and servants to wait on him- what a life!
At that very moment, the prince on the balcony looked out on the fisherman afar off on the water, and thought: “Oh, I wish I were that fisherman- no worries, no problems, no responsibilities- just a little boat to relax in while I fish!”