Jealousy Hurts Ourselves
Korach (Numbers 16-18 )
Jealousy is a destructive habit that doesn't let us enjoy or even see all the good we have. This week's Torah portion talks about Korach, who was one of the greatest and most important people in the world. Yet because he was jealous of Moses and Aaron, he felt like he had nothing and ended up losing everything he had. Jealousy doesn't hurt others as much as it hurts ourselves.
In our story, a kid discovers the destructive power of jealousy.
"LOSING HIS COOL"
Jerry Ellis thought it wasn't fair. Why did his younger brother Scott get so many more nice toys than he did? True, his mom told him that being jealous never helped anything. She even once made him count all the toys he and his brother had, just to see that they both had basically the same number of things. (Actually Jerry had even a little more than Scott.) But even still, Jerry felt like he didn't have enough and that his brother had too much.
But all that was going to change very soon, Jerry thought to himself. He had just gotten a call that the delivery truck was on its way. Last time he spoke to his Grandma on the phone, Jerry had begged her to send him a new remote-control Robotron robot. It took a lot of convincing, but she finally agreed and now it would be there any minute.
When the big, brown van pulled up into his driveway, Jerry raced out to take the package from the delivery man. He ran into the house, ripped off the paper wrapping, opened it up and turned the robot on.
"COME-LETS-HAVE-FUN!" it said in a metallic robot voice.
Wow, it even talked! The Robotron looked really cool. It had moving arms, lasers for eyes, and the directions said you could even use it under water! But for Jerry, the absolute best thing about it was that it was his, and his alone. Boy would his brother Scott be jealous when he got home and saw it.
Jerry didn't have to wait very long, because the door swung open a moment later and Scott came in. "Hey, what's that?" he asked as he swung down his book bag.
"That is MY brand new Robotron and you can't touch it," Jerry gloated.
"Wow, cool. Where did you get it?" Scott asked.
"From Grandma - and it's just for me," he said, holding up the package.
Just then, a note Jerry hadn't noticed fell out of the box and landed at Scott's feet. He quickly read it and held it out to his brother with a sheepish smile.
"Here, this is for you," Scott said. "But I don't think you're going to like it."
Jerry snarled, grabbed the note out of his little brother's hand, and read: 'DEAR JERRY AND SCOTT, ENJOY YOUR NEW TOY AND REMEMBER TO BOTH SHARE AND SHARE ALIKE. LOVE, GRANDMA.'
"So I guess it's both of ours after all, huh?" Scott said. "Do you want to play with it first? Or can we both..." Scott was so excited, but Jerry was so mad, he could hardly hear a word he was saying. Why do I have to share it? Why can't I just have something that my brother doesn't have? It isn't fair.
"Come on! Let's turn it on," Scott said loudly. He watched Jerry lifting the robot high above his head.
Well if it can't be all mine, then it's not going to be anyone's!
"Hey, Jerry, what're you doing?"
Jerry hurled the robot down as hard as he could against the floor. The brand new, shiny robot smashed into a hundred tiny pieces of wires, knobs, bits of plastic and microchips.
"The robot has just self-destructed," Jerry said with a strange smile.
"No it didn't. You broke it!" Scott cried as he ran out of the room.
Well this is one toy my brother is never going to enjoy, Jerry laughed to himself.
Hey, what was that? Jerry looked over and saw the broken head of the robot. One eye was still intact and lit up. "COME-LET'S-HA-HA-HA..." It made a couple more crackling noises as Jerry picked up the head, and then it went silent, with its laser eye fading out.
Jerry gently put it down and felt his stomach turning over. The robot's last words made him realize that Scott wasn't the only one who was never going to have fun with it. What did I do that for? There was no way to fix the toy and Jerry quickly realized that once his Grandma finds out, neither she nor his parents would get him any more presents for a very long time.
Gosh did I blow it, Jerry thought to himself. He lost so much and gained nothing. All because of jealousy.
Q. How did Jerry feel at first when he smashed the robot?
A. He was happy because his brother wouldn't be able to use it.
Q. How did he feel in the end?
A. He felt bad when he realized his jealousy of his brother caused him to ruin something he could have really enjoyed.
Q. What life lesson do you think Jerry learned from what happened?
A. He had been jealous of his brother for a long time, but when he went to the extreme of destroying a great new toy out of jealousy, he realized it was a bad habit that not only hurt others but hurt him too.
Q. What if Scott really did have more things than Jerry, would it then have been appropriate for him to feel jealous?
A. While it is natural to be jealous of those who have things that we don't, it is still a negative and destructive trait and if we can eliminate it we will feel much happier.
Ages 10 and Up
Q. Do you think there is a way we can change our spiritual viewpoint that will lessen jealous feelings? If so, how?
A. Jealousy stems from an idea that we are somehow lacking something that would be beneficial for us. However God provides each person with exactly what he needs for his ultimate good and happiness. The more we internalize this, the less jealous we will feel.
Q. Is there ever a time it is appropriate to feel jealous?
A. Our sages teach that if we see someone who possesses a positive value or good trait we would like to have too, we could use our feeling of jealousy to motivate us to get there.