The Jealous Neighbor

Each week I read stories on different topics.  This one really struck me due to issues I have dealt with for a few months now.  Often we deal with things and we think, “I am the injured one”.  Is that really the case?  I can see the hate from my neighbor everyday.  It  gets harder and harder not to think bad thoughts of them.  Each day I have to fight off the evil inclinations that constantly fill my thoughts towards them.  I know that for every unkind act they do to me, I am blessed with strength to endure.  That in no ways means it is easy.

When I was checking my e-mail after prayer and study of Torah, I found this topic and felt a connection.  Some may think I’m going to talk about how my neighbor is jealous of me but is that really the case?  You see, the truth is she has (or it seems she has) everyone on her side.  No one has ever come to ask me what happened or even bothered to see if what she said happened is what actually occurred.  I was jealous that she gained an upper hand when I felt I did nothing wrong.  But  is that really true?  Is it really that simple that she did ALL the wrong and I did none?  I don’t think so.  You see, in every story there are three sides.  Her side, my side, and then the truth.  The big question is, “How do we get to the truth”?  We each have our perspectives of what happened, although I am not really sure what happened.

I’m not going to go into the details of the incident, for you would only have my version of it and I am not really sure what that version would be.  I found myself on the receiving end of someone’s hate and jealousy.  Why? I don’t know.  But that evil caused me great pain.  Here is the article I read that really helped me in understanding that things aren’t always as they seem.

Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov once said to his disciples:

“There once lived two neighbors, a Torah scholar and an impoverished laborer. The scholar would wake before dawn, rush to the study hall and study for several hours. He would then pray at length and with great devotion, hurry home for a quick bite of breakfast, and return to the study hall for more hours of study. After the noon meal he would go to the market and engage in some minimal dealing—just enough to earn him his basic needs—then back to the study hall. After evening prayers and the evening meal, he would again sit over the sacred books till late into the night.

“His neighbor would also wake early, but his situation did not allow for much Torah study: no matter how hard he struggled to earn a living, he barely succeeded in putting bread on the table. He would pray quickly with the first minyan at daybreak, and then his labor would consume his entire day and the greater part of his night. On Shabbat, when he finally had the opportunity to take a book in his hands, he would soon drop off from exhaustion.

“When the two neighbors would pass each other in the yard, the scholar would throw the crass materialist a look of contempt and hurry on to his holy pursuits. The poor laborer would sigh and think to himself: How unfortunate is my lot, and how fortunate is his. We’re both hurrying—but he’s rushing to the study hall, while I’m off to my mundane burdens.

“Then, it came to pass that the two men concluded their sojourn on earth, and their souls stood before the heavenly court, where the life of every man is weighed upon the balance scales of divine judgment. An advocate-angel placed the scholar’s many virtues in the right cup of the balance scales: his many hours of Torah study, his meditative prayers, his frugality and honesty. But then came the prosecuting angel, who placed a single object on the other side of the scales—the look of contempt that the scholar would occasionally send his neighbor’s way. Slowly, the left side of the scales began to dip, until it equaled, and then exceeded, the formidable load on the right.

“When the poor laborer came before the heavenly court, the prosecutor loaded his miserable, spiritually void life on the left scales. The advocating angel had but one weight to offer—the sorrowful, covetous  sigh the laborer would emit when he encountered his learned neighbor. But when placed on the right side of the scales, the sigh counterweighted everything on the negative side, lifting and validating every moment of hardship and misery in the laborer’s life.”

Yanki Tauber is content editor of
You may wonder how this story helped me with my issue.  No, my neighbor nor I are either of these people.  I am not a true, deeply devoted person of Torah study and she is not a hard worker.  So how did this help me to see that although I feel wronged by her, it may be me that is wrong?  Well, look at the life of these two men, and you will see why the one who gave all his time to study did not fare well, but the one who worked so hard and gave very little to study fared greatly.  This is a matter of the heart.  And I had to ask myself, “Where is my heart?”  It was not a matter of whether I did something wrong to her, but whether I showed kindness in my heart.



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