Saturday, June 24, 2017

Why the Jealousy?

This Shabbos I was thinking and hearing a lot about the middah of קנאה - jealousy. It was Parshas Korach which teaches that jealousy, LITERALLY, takes one out of the world [as per the mishna הקנאה והתאוה והכבוד מוציאים את האדם מן העולם]. Interestingly enough, I found that at those times when I wasn't eating-sleeping-learning-or davening, I found myself being ... jealous. In those areas that are very important for me to be a success, I look around and see lots of people doing far better than me. Then that pernicious feeling rares its ugly head. I will assume you are never jealous but since you know people who are [like me] I would like to expand. 

Why?? What are the deeper psychological reasons that people harbor such damaging feelings of jealousy? 

Here are a few:

1] A person is dissatisfied with his or her life.

Imagine a chosson [I'm a guy. If you aren't you can imagine a kalla]: He is watching as his beautiful bride whom he is so crazy for is being escorted to the Chuppah. They are playing that soft, sweet chuppah music. In moments - they will create a bond that will unite them forever. But first - he will put a ring on her finger, answer amen to some brachos, and have a wild party with his family and friends for a few hours. Then what they call in Hebrew עת דודים. Then a week of sheva brachos. Then a lifetime and eternity with his beloved. He is in the clouds. Does he look at one of the guests at that moment and notice that he has a really nice gold watch and think - "Oh man, I wish I had that guys watch"? Or he sees the photographer [the third most important person at any wedding] and says "That is a really nice tie he is wearing. I want that guy's tie!!"


If we are jealous is because we feel lacking in our present circumstances. 

2] We don't love the other person enough. If we loved the other person enough we would be THRILLED at what he has and not be focused on the fact that we lack. 

3] We love ourselves too much. That is why we project what the other person owns or has achieved back to ourselves. But it really has NOTHING to do with us. NOTHING. It is just excessive narcissism. 

4] We don't love and believe in Hashem enough. If we loved and believed in Hashem as we should, we would be very happy at how He gives things out. 

5] Narrow vision: If we knew what the other person is suffering from we wouldn't be jealous. And I promise you, that person is struggling in life. EVERYBODY is struggling. 

6] Distorted thinking: Many of us have a distorted perception of reality which cause us to see other people and situations in ways that don't reflect reality. Then we are jealous due to our imagination. 

There are other root causes as well. Knowing what causes jealousy will help us combat it. 

So I admit to suffering from this horrible middah. My consolation is that A] I admit it. B] I don't try to justify it. C] I am working to eradicate it. D] I am trying to take all of my beloved friends [who are also afflicted with this malaise] with me on the journey.