As I stood under the wedding canopy with the woman who, only minutes before, had become my wife, I listened to the words of the officiating rabbi. After quoting something that my father OB”M had told him, Rabbi Schwartz quoted the sages and said “a person is never jealous of his/her child or student”. I have recently had several occasions to think about those words.
During my recent trip to Israel, I saw a number of students who had recently moved to Israel. This decision involved a commitment to live in a different country far from friends and family. For many, it also involved a decision to join the Israeli Army. I was impressed by the courage that these students demonstrated. I felt a certain sadness as I looked at these young adults who were living their lives with such idealism. I wondered whether I still possessed this sense of idealism. I wasn’t jealous however. I recognized the wisdom of the Rabbis’ words. It seems to me that they were not merely describing reality in saying what they did. The reason a mother is not jealous of her child, is because in her child’s success lies her own success. Similarly a teacher feels good when his student succeeds as he has achieved through his student’s achievement. The rabbis encouraged us to feel good when another person achieves something. Look at it as your own success and there is nothing of which to feel jealous.
I thought of this idea when I spoke to my brother on Friday and heard about his achievement in his latest half-marathon. I was really happy for him that he broke his PR by almost 20 minutes. It was harder to feel good about the fact that he passed my PR as well. I had thought that I was far enough ahead that he would not be able to beat me. I was impressed by his achievement. I was jealous of his time. I have to work harder to see his success as my own. Until I reach that point, I have to train harder. A family record is out there for me to reclaim.