Whose Side Are You On?…asks Rabbi Michoel Gourarie

February 21, 2014 by Rabbi Michoel Gourarie
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Question:
I have a jealousy problem. I am envious of anyone that succeeds more than me or has more than I do. It makes me miserable but I just can’t get rid of this emotion. What can I do to feel differently?
Answer:
This is a complex topic with many strategies to develop. But as a start here is a perspective to consider.

Our sages tell us that “a person is envious of everyone with the exception of his child or student”. Why we are we not jealous of our children and students even, though they might be cleverer or better than us?

Rabbi Michoel Gourarie

Rabbi Michoel Gourarie

Jealousy can only be towards a stranger who we view as competition. The stronger someone on the opposite team becomes, the more threatened we feel. But children and students are on the same team because we have invested in them, cared for them and monitored and nurtured their development. They matter to us and are an integral part of our lives and not our competition. Their success is important to us, and their achievements bring us pleasure and happiness.

This Talmudic statement is not just an observation of human behavior, but rather a strategy. Jealousy cannot just be eradicated. It needs to be substituted by a positive antidote. If we can put in effort to care about others, investing in them, helping and assisting them in every way possible, we make them part of our team. When we invest in others we create a closeness that eventually can develop like family. When that happens, their success is ours and we celebrate their accomplishments rather than feeling threatened.

The broader you make your team the less you will feel jealous.

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