Kenneth Cohen

Jealousy Removes Joy

The Ramchal points out that after we have mastered our observances of the Mitzvot, we have even a greater challenge. This means that we are to work on our character traits.

This becomes so difficult when we are asked to change bad habits. These may be very fixed in our nature, that it is very hard to uproot.

He focuses on four areas that are common to most people. He speaks of גאוה, haughtiness, כעס, anger, קנאה, jealousy, and תאוה, lust. Of these four problematic flaws, jealousy is probably the most harmful.

The Ramchal spoke of the foolishness connected with someone who is obsessed with another person. It manifests itself when that person experiences some kind of joyous occasion, or realizes success.

The jealous person will feel terrible that his object of obsession, is truly happy. The extent of the foolishness of such behavior, is that this troubled individual becomes blinded to his own lot in life. He becomes incapable of appreciating the many gifts he has received. He cannot see his own blessings and reasons for rejoicing. He has removed from himself the ability to be happy at all.

How sad this is to see so many people who stumble in this area. They fail to recognize that each individual is given exactly what Hashem believes that he is supposed to have. Obsessing over another person is pointless, and has no benefit, but harm.

The Ramchal wants people to wake up, and learn to appreciate what they have, and learn to give gratitude to G-d for all that they have. This is how we achieve true happiness and contentment.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at