Jealousy: The Root of All Evil

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By Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss

We know that some women are into jewelry.  The Ben Ish Chai, Zt”l, Zy”a, informs us that Mrs. Korach was one such woman.  He relates that she would adorn herself with golden bracelets from the palms of her hands to the tips of her shoulders.  The women would gather around much to her pleasure and oooh and ahhh at her gorgeous ensemble.  One day, she met Tziporah, Moshe Rabbeinu’s Rebbetzin, and said to her derisively, “Look at you!  Not even one piece of jewelry.  It’s a disgrace.” Tziporah answered her quietly and with dignity, “I have the greatest crown.  My husband’s Torah.”  Mrs. Korach just looked at her we scorn and walked away.

When Moshe Rabbeinu chiseled the second set of luchos, tablets, Hashem told him that he could keep the residue that was chiseled out.  The luchos were made from priceless solid sapphire.  Moshe Rabbeinu took a chunk, gave it to his wife and told her to go to Oholiav in order that he fashion for her a piece of jewelry from it.  When Oholiav saw it he exclaimed, “Do you realize?  This is the most precious stone in the world today?”  When word got around, everyone left the wife of Korach and started to go and catch a glimpse of Tziporah’s jewelry.  When Mrs. Korach learned this, she became so consumed with jealousy that she instigated her husband to go to battle with Moshe Rabbeinu.  We know that this just added fuel to the fire since Korach had his own package of jealousy, feeling that he should have received the nisios, presidency, that was given to Elitzafan ben Uziel.

We all know the dreadful end of Korach: How he and his entire family were swallowed alive straight to Gehenom.  And we all know how terrible machlokes, fighting, is.  But we must realize that the root of it all was jealousy.  The Rosh writes in his Orchos Chaim, “Do not allow jealousy to creep into your heart for it is an evil sickness that has no cure.”  How frightening!  An incurable malignancy!  I compare jealousy to asbestos: one can’t inhale it for then it can cause, G-d forbid, irreversible mesothelioma.  The Rosh is giving us strong advice.  As soon as jealousy bites you, whether it’s about your friend’s summer home, his car, his job, or his wife, don’t go there!  Don’t allow those thoughts to simmer because once you do there’s no cure.

We know how bad jealousy is from the very beginning of time.  The nachash, snake, was jealous of Chava, the most beautiful of all women.  And that caused death to all mankind.  Kayin was jealous of Hevel and wiped out half of man’s descendants.  Because of two sela’im worth of wool, the ksones pasim, the Crayola cloak that Yakov gave to Yosef, the jealousy which it orchestrated caused Yosef to be sold as a slave and in retribution caused the Jewish people to sold into slavery for 117 years.   It would cause the death of the ten martyrs including the great Rabbi Akiva and the death of the ten sons of Rav Yochanan.  The jealousy that Yerovom ben Navot had for the Davidic king Rechavam caused him to steer the ten tribes towards idolatry and the eventual loss of the ten tribes.

The Shelah HaKodosh writes that most hatred is rooted in jealousy and the Pele Yoetz states that if someone wants to live long, he will flee from jealousy.  It is noteworthy that the only midah, character trait, that is discussed in the Ten Commandments is lo sachmod, not to covet – the trait of jealousy.   This once again emphasizes how important it is to root out this ugly trait.

The Gematria of ayin rah, an evil begrudging eye that is envious of others, is 400.  The gematria of yeish li kol, I have everything, Yakov’s mantra, is also 400 for that is the antidote to jealousy, knowing that Hashem gives us everything that we need.  As we say in our daily morning blessings, She’asah li kol tzarki – Hashem, make for me all that I need.”  So, let’s treat jealousy like the plague and avoid it at all costs and let’s educate our children to do the same.  In that merit, may Hashem bless us with long life, good health, and everything wonderful.

Please learn and daven for the refuah sheleima of Miriam Liba bas Devorah, b’soch shaar cholei Yisroel.

Sheldon Zeitlin takes dictation of, and edits, Rabbi Weiss’s articles.

Start the cycle of Mishna Yomis with Rabbi Weiss by dialing 718.906.6471. Or you can listen to his daily Shiur on Orchos Chaim l’HaRosh by dialing 718.906.6400, then going to selection 4 for Mussar, and then to selection 4.   Both are FREE services.

Rabbi Weiss is currently stepping up his speaking engagements.  To bring him to your community, call 718.916.3100 or email [email protected].

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Attend Rabbi Weiss’s weekly shiur at the Landau Shul, Avenue L and East 9th in Flatbush, Tuesday nights at 9:30 p.m.

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