Torah’s Perspective on Flaunting Wealth

Ask the Rov: Is there a problem to display something that will cause others to be jealous?

By Rabbi Chaim Hillel Raskin – Rov of Anash in Petach Tikvah

Resisting the urge to feel jealous could prove quite challenging. It is important to realize, however, that although it is only a feeling and involves no action, jealousy is a serious aveira and causes a person to “leave the world.”1 It is considered challenging Hashem’s will, as he is in effect saying, “Why did Hashem give more to that person and less to me?”2

One should not favor one child over the others to avoid engendering friction and jealousy between them (as by Yosef and the shevatim).3 Likewise, one should take care not to cause competition between people, which may bring them to be jealous of each other. When Moshe took members for the Sanhedrin, he chose an equal amount from each shevet.4

To avoid causing others to be jealous, one shouldn’t flaunt their success or bountiful possessions.5 Moreover, Hashem’s bracha rests only in that which is hidden from the eye.6 For this reason, poskim write that one should not dress extravagantly above the mainstream since that arouses jealousy and competition within a community.7 Similarly, one should not praise other women in front of one’s own wife as this can arouse her jealousy and ruin their shalom bayis.8 This is also one of the reasons for hesitating to demote someone from a position so as not to cause jealousy between him and his substitute.9

There is a form of positive “jealousy” and that is to ask oneself, “When will my deeds reach the level of my forefathers?”10 When one sees that his friend enjoys success, one should tell himself, “Surely he merited this due to his special service of Hashem; if only I should merit to serve Hashem as well as him!”11

Great praise and reward are in store for one who does not harbor jealousy toward his friend. We find that Reuven was praised that he was not jealous of Yosef, and Aharon haKohen merited to be kohen gadol since he was not being jealous of Moshe Rabbeinu’s appointment to leadership.12

See Sources (open PDF)

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