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Parshat Vayeshev

Dear STOCS Friend:

Jealousy is an insidious character trait to possess. It “can occur in almost every type of human relationship—from siblings competing for parental attention to coworkers trying to impress a respected boss.” (Psychology Today) We learn Parshat Vayashave:

וְיִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל אָהַ֤ב אֶת־יוֹסֵף֙ מִכׇּל־בָּנָ֔יו

Yisroel (Yaakov) loved Yosef more than his other sons.

וַֽיִּשְׂנְא֖וּ אֹת֑וֹ

And they (the brothers of Yosef) hated him.

וַיְקַנְאוּ־ב֖וֹ אֶחָ֑יו

And they were jealous of him.

Note how the feeling of being less loved by a parent result in hatred and finally manifests itself through jealousy. The Emrei Shefer explains hatred is the feeling of doing harm while jealousy occurs when a person sees another in a higher or more prominent position.

I find it difficult to explain Yaakov’s behavior. He grew up in a house full of favoritism. Shmuley Boteach writes: “Beginning with the time he was a boy; Jacob witnessed his father Isaac’s favoritism toward Esau. When he gets older Jacob repeats this error by favoring Joseph. It is unbelievable that the Torah actually says, “And Jacob (Israel) loved his son Joseph more than all his other sons.” Which father does that, or is so blatant about it?”

However, after mulling over the Yaakov’s apparent improper behavior, it is really the brothers, who by choice, made the matter worse. Rabbi Yaakov Goldstein writes: “Don’t be jealous, everyone is created with different qualities and missions: Yosef’s brothers were angry at him because they believed that he was unjustifiably elevating himself above them, while in truth the fact was that Yosef contained spiritual qualities that were greater and higher than his brothers, and even that of his father. We can learn from this that sometimes we need to accept the fact that G-d granted qualities to others that we do not contain, and in relation to those qualities we should humble ourselves before them.”

Jealousy is a course of action a person chooses to pursue. At times, it may be due to low self-esteem and self-worth or insecurity. Another possibility is failing to understand one’s own strengths or weaknesses. All of us have a unique ability and a part to play in life. For example, I am a teacher at the Day School, but I do not have what it takes to teach kindergarten or a first-grade class. I am the Rav of STOCS and a chaplain at Menorah Park, however I do not possess the wherewithal to serve as a chaplain in a prison system.

To their credit, the brothers did realize their mistake albeit many years later. They begged Joseph’s forgiveness due to the fact they acted on negative emotions of hatred and jealousy.

The takeaway from the entire incident is to teach the detrimental effects of jealousy and to steer away from this negative character trait.

Please God, I hope to see you in shul this Shabbas as we have another cholent kiddush. We will be reciting teffilot for the IDF as well.

Shabbot Shalom!

Rabbi Shore


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