Chofetz Chaim: Laws of Speech-Remembering Miriam #13

2 07 2012

Based on a Naaleh.com shiur by Rabbi Beinish Gunsburg 

One of the ten commandments is, “You shall not covet.” An offshoot of this is envy. Envy is wanting what other people have for yourself. Coveting means desiring it so much that you begin to scheme how you will wrest it away. Envy takes you out of this world. It is self-destructive.

A classic example of envy is Haman. He had all the power, wealth, and influence a person could wish for. Yet he said, “Kol zeh eninu shove li,” it’s all worthless to me. Because one Jew, Mordechai, who will not bow down to me. He schemed to decimate the entire Jewish people and in the end he and his children were killed.

Here are some ideas to curb envy: The Ibn Ezra tells a parable. Just as a country bumpkin finds the prospect of marrying a princess way out of his league, we should view what others have as irrelevant to us. The Gemara says a man envies everyone except his son and disciple. This is because they are extensions of him. He is invested in them. If we help other people achieve success, if we can get that sense of personal involvement, it will diminish our feelings of envy.

When you begin to feel envious of someone, tell yourself that you don’t know the whole picture. Rav Bunim of Peshischa said if everyone would put their sack of problems in a pile, each person would take back their own problems. Think about all the positive things you have that the person you envy doesn’t have. Compare yourself with those less fortunate than you, rather than with those more fortunate than you. Instead of asking yourself, “Why should this person be more successful than I am?” think about improving yourself by mimicking that person’s ways.

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