The Difference Between Healthy and Unhealthy Jealousy

In 1962, four companies started discount chains.

S.S. Kresge, a big, eight hundred-store variety chain, opened a discount store in Garden City, Michigan, and called it Kmart. F.W. Woolworth, the grandfather of them all, started its Woolco chain.

One of the chains, Dayton- Hudson out of Minneapolis, opened its first Target store. And some independent businesses down in Arkansas opened something called a Wal-Mart, (now known as Walmart.)

At the time, and for quite a while after that, hardly anybody noticed that last guy. However, within five years, Kmart had two hundred and fifty stores to Walmart’s nineteen, and sales of almost $800 million to Walmart’s $9 million.

Sam Walton the founder of Walmart, recounted in his autobiography that Kmart was his single motivator for business growth and development.

Every time Kmart opened a new store Sam was determined to find a way to open at least two new Walmarts. Sam nicknamed Kmart his laboratory where he would go to learn everything he needed to in order to make his business better and stronger.

By 2015,  The Walmart Company, operated eleven thousand stores in twenty-seven countries and employed 2.3 million associates. Its 2020 revenue reached five hundred and fifty-five billion.

In this week’s Parsha reading in Israel, Korach (‘The Bald One’) and his followers Dathan and Abiram, lead a rebellion against the leadership of Moshe and Aaron’s legitimacy for holding the highest positions in the Holy service of the Mishkan. In the midst of the Israelite encampment in the burning desert, stood the Mishkan. It was a place of glory, beauty, and unmatched sanctity. It was also the focal point of Israel’s existence during their journeys in the desert after the Exodus. Thus, The Mishkan, was the Tabernacle, the sacred place where G-d’s Presence dwelled.

The Midrash, which denotes an expansive Jewish Biblical exegesis using a rabbinic mode of interpretation prominent in the Talmud, explains quite a lot about Korach and his personal life leading up to this confrontational event. First off, Korach was the richest person to leave Egypt. He left with sixty donkeys carrying the keys to his treasure chests. This is why the Jewish people use him as an example when trying to describe a tycoon.

He had a pristine lineage and he himself was a very Holy and dedicated Jew.

The Medrash further explains that Korach was working very hard on his jealousy issues. However, when he came home completely bald (having shaved off all of his facial and head of hair which was a prerequisite for the tribe of Levi to serve), his wife antagonized him by saying that Moshe was deliberately sabotaging his appearance on purpose for his own personal gain.

Korach’s main argument was all the Jewish people are Holy, therefore there is no reason to have one person elevated above the others. At first, the Jewish people didn’t follow Korach, but then slowly many people bought into his rhetoric since deep down they were hoping that this revolt might lead to them getting positions of prominence as well.

In the end, Moshe sets the stage for a service competition and Hashem chooses Moshe and Aaron. Moshe prays to Hashem only to punish the leaders and no one else since the followers had a more passive role in the revolt and Hashem heeds his request. Hashem creates a targeted earthquake that swallows up Korach, his family (besides his son that left last minute), his advisory group, and all of their worldly possessions.

Chasidus explains that there are both healthy and unhealthy types of jealousy. As it says, when one is jealous of one’s friend’s growth in religious service to Hashem, it will motivate him to learn more.

As we see from the opening story with Sam Walton, jealousy can be a supercharged motivator for growth in business as well.

Chasidus explains that the litmus test in differentiating between the healthy jealousy, the one that assists in your growth, and the unhealthy jealousy, the one that can kill you, is the following. If your jealousy is giving you motivation and ideas on how you can better yourself by watching your friend, it is healthy. If jealousy is wanting something that belongs to someone else, it is unhealthy.

Korach should have channeled this jealousy into something positive and learned from Moshe and Aaron’s dedicated service on how to improve his own enlightenment. Korach could have used his extreme wealth for the greater good and become the leading philanthropist of his generation. Hashem wanted Korach to become the best Korach he could be and not another Moshe or Aaron.

It is a perfectly healthy and natural feeling to feel jealous of another person’s success. You cannot deny this feeling’s existence. However, use it instead as a springboard for personal and spiritual achievement.

Remember, that we all are on our own personal and unique journey and our mission is to bring light into this world.

When we see someone else succeed, we should ask ourselves if there is anything we can learn from that person’s individual success that can be incorporated into our personal lives to help us grow and expand our horizons.

Have a wonderful Shabbos!

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