Parashios Shelach and Korach

A common theme in parashios Shelach and Korach is jealousy and the desire for honor. Korach’s jealousy and desire for honor led him to organize a rebellion against Moshe. The men who went to scout Eretz Yisrael were also tainted with a desire for honor. As the Zohar explains, they understood that upon Jewish People’s entry into Eretz Yisrael, their term of leadership would end. This factor biased their judgment (subconciously) and led them to convey a negative report.
The Maggid, in his commentary on Koheles 4:4-9, expounds on the trait of jealousy and honor-seeking. The passage in Koheles reads as follows:
I saw that all labor and all skillful enterprise spring from a man’s jealousy of his fellow. This, too, is futility and a vexation of the spirit. The fool folds his hands and eats his own flesh. One handful with serenity is better than two handfuls with toil and vexation of the spirit. I then went back, and I observed [another] futility beneath the sun: a lone man, who has no companion, without even son or brother, laboring endlessly. His eye is never sated with riches, and [he never says:] “For whom am I laboring and depriving my soul of good?” This, too, is futility and an evil practice. Two are better than one, for they obtain a good reward from their labor.
The Maggid explains that jealousy comes in three basic forms. The first of these, the which is meritorious, is the zealous drive to execute retribution for a wrong done. The second form is the drive to match what others have achieved. This form of jealousy is ignoble in essence, but is similar (a “brother”) to the meritorious form in that it yields benefits. When a person sees his fellow men acting virtuously toward Hashem and toward others, he becomes jealous of them and rushes to do likewise. The benefits stemming from a person’s jealousy can be referred to metaphorically as “sons.” The third form of jealousy, which is profoundly evil, is the desire to hold a position of supremacy and the drive to do anything and everything in order to achieve this goal.
At the start of the passage in Koheles, Shlomo HaMelech expresses a certain degree of praise for the form of jealousy that involves the drive to match the achievements of others. This form of jealousy, while not the form that is meritorious in essence, is similar to it in yielding benefits. Shlomo then describes the form of jealousy that is evil both in essence and in effect: the jealousy of the man who seeks to stand alone, unrivaled. Shlomo notes that this form of jealousy has no positive facet at all, neither by way of resemblance (“brother”) nor by way of consequence (“son”). Two are better than one, Shlomo says, but the man seized with morbid jealousy seeks to be unique in stature. This type of jealousy is to be shunned and condemned.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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