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Envy less, live longer

איש מטפס על הר

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

Envy. It's the root of the tragic controversy that we just read on Shabbat (in Israel). On the surface, it would seem that Korach had ideological reasons to oppose Moshe Rabbeinu and Aharon HaKohen. Yet, in truth, Korach was simply jealous of their leadership positions. Korach was blessed with enormous wealth, a family, and served an important role in the Mishkan service. However, all this was not enough for him.

Therefore the punishment that Korach and his followers received was highly symbolic. The earth opened and they were swallowed up, since envy does not take a person anywhere but rather buries him alive where he stands; he disappears and is erased.

Rabbi Elazar summed up the danger of envy and two associated character traits as follows: "Envy, lust, and (the pursuit of) honor remove a person from the world." (Pirkei Avot, 4:28)

In other words, envy is not just a bad quality or just another problem. It takes a person out of this world.

So what's the solution?.To take to heart Ben Zoma's response to his own question. "Who is rich?" he asks, and immediately answers: "The one who rejoices in his lot." (Pirkei Avot 4:1)

The truly rich individual is grateful for what he has -- all the good things he has been given -- and he does not envy what others have. This is a lifetime mission, especially in an era of social media. If envy removes us from this world, a joyful and grateful attitude imparts more life within it.


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