Bereshis[1] is about brothers; brothers who don’t get along.jealousy

Schmuley and Ariel were both young talmidim in Brooklyn. Schmuley met Ariel when his father drove him to Brooklyn from their home a half dozen states away.

Schmuley and Ariel became acquaintances because they became roommates, but there was always a tense uneasiness between them.

In Shas class, no one was getting it [something to which I can relate when I first started studying Talmud]. Ariel, one day, got his grade on a Gemara test and he saw a 97%. He finally understood and he was ecstatic. This was his best grade and the best grade in the class. Other grades came along, but suddenly someone else became audibly joyful. A 98%! Ariel was devastated. He looked up to see none other than his roommate Schmuley bouncing in excitement. That dirty rat Schmuley beat his grade. Ariel talked to the Rebbe after class. He was convinced Schmuley cheated. He asked for special consideration on certain answers, but the Rebbe held firm to the grade. This was something Ariel was never going to forget.

One evening, Schmuley was jolted awake by some noise. He looked out the window to see some neighborhood hooligans in their late teens or early 20s dumping over trash cans, writing obscene words on walls, and throwing beer bottles around the Yeshiva grounds. This frightened Schmuley and he asked his roommate, Ariel, to come look through the window.

“No worries,” said Ariel. “On Friday afternoon, when we get several free hours after Parsha class, I will help you.” Two days later, Ariel took Shmuley to an Army-Navy store and convinced him to purchase a knife. He found one with a six-inch retractable blade and he put a few dollars down on the counter and slipped the blade into his pocket. “Keep that knife with you at all times, Schmuley, and if you see the hoodlums and they give you any problems, pull out the blade, flash it around a bit, and they will run away.”

On Sunday morning (that very next Sunday) after Shacharis service, Schmuley and Ariel were called into the Rosh Yeshiva’s office, where the Rosh Yeshiva asked Schmuley how he liked being at the school. “Are the classes good? Are you learning easily? Now, I’m going to ask you to empty your pockets.”

Out came a trifold wallet with ID, some change, crinkled a silver-certificate five-dollar bill and some pocket lint.

“Is that all?” Out comes a marble, some more pocket lint, and an unusually colored rock.

“Anything more?” He pulled the blade out of his pocket and put it on the desk. The Rosh Yeshiva’s face became ashen and several other rebbes were called to witness the atrocity. By Monday midmorning, Schmuley was on a train back to Denver. Ariel had effectively rid himself of his rival and a source of jealousy, all with one slick move.

Later, His father applied and Schmuley was accepted to a very good school in Baltimore. After he graduated, he went to Yeshiva, and years later, he found himself moving back to Denver where he became a Rabbi of the Synagogue on Monaco Pkwy. When asked about Ariel, Schmuley would say he hears about him once in a while, but he’s known as a shady and untrustworthy businessman. Sadly, it turns out, Ariel left the day school near the beginning of his second year and never returned.

Bereshis[1] is about brothers; brothers who don’t get along, and all these brothers were separated by a single commonality.

  • Joseph’s brothers hated and plotted to end his life. Eventually, they sold him into slavery.
  • Based upon the vision Rebecca had when she was pregnant with the twins, Jacob offered to purchase the birthright and Esau gladly sold what he never wanted. When she has Jacob dress has his brother to receive the blessing, this created what many consider irreconcilable differences between the boys.
  • The blessings of G-d were never intended for Ishmael, and even from their tender youth, he suffered a rivalry with Isaac he found insurmountable.
  • Once Lot was able to become wealthy off his uncle Abraham, he left and chose the decadence of Sodom over the righteous lifestyle of Abraham. We will look at this issue in a couple weeks.
  • Cain and Abel approached their korbanot[2] with a different heart, and the acceptance of Abel and the rejection of Cain’s sacrifice created a situation that ended in murder.

All these brothers were separated because of one emotion, and this cancerous emotion is called jealousy.

We often see life as a race or a competition. Competition is a healthy addition to our lives, but if taken too far, it creates jealousy, which will threaten to destroy you and those around you. In all the cases we see in Genesis, competition between brothers created jealousy and this destroyed their relationships and in one case, someone lost his life.

In the Besorah, we are given a list of nine fruits of the Spirit[3]. These appear to be closely tied to the gifts of the Spirit[4]: Knowledge, Wisdom, Prophecy, Faith, Healings, Miracles, Discerning of Spirits, Different Kinds of Languages, and Interpretation of Languages. If you have one and not the other, we should not envy the other for his gift, for these are distributed among the Community of Faith as our Creator deems necessary, for we all serve a unique function and our function is as vital as any other when we consider the overall health of the community[5].

Jealousy destroys. It ruins our peace, it infects our relationships with venom, and it deafens our ears to the voice of Hashem. We all must learn to have peace with our lot in life. This will make is richly blessed and we can move away from he brothers who cannot got along and be like Moshe and Aaron, the bothers who got along. With this kind of love, we can affect a change in the world that will usher in the Messiah.

[1] The book of Genesis

[2] sacrifices

[3] But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22)

[4] But manifestations of Ruach Hashem (the Spirit of the Holy One) is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge…, to another faith…, to another gifts of healings…, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of languages, to another the interpretation of languages. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as [Hashem] wills. (1 Corinthians 12:7-11)

[5] Isaiah 11 lists seven spirits present in the Branch of David, which are represented in the seven branches of the menorah, but that is for another time.


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