Could she be right? Are there people who enjoy seeing others suffer or fail? Sadly, yes.
Fierce competition, which may lead to schadenfreude, is embedded in the Western consciousness. Certainly, it’s part of our popular culture, and finds a home in spectator sports, academia, and the media.
Even Especially in political opinion pieces written by some of our most esteemed journalists and pundits.
Of course, this all trickles down to everyday life.
Just as sad is the fact there are also people who feel miserable when someone else succeeds, even someone they consider a friend. Jealousy consumes them. They metaphorically “eat their heart out,” whenever a friend receives revealed blessings or achieves spiritual or material success.
How crazy are these two feelings? Where do they come from?
They come from an inability to see that each of us is connected to the same spiritual Source, that we’re all “family.”
Ultimately, these destructive feelings are rooted in a lack of emuna, faith.
What does it mean to have emuna, especially as it relates to jealousy?
Someone with emuna understands that every occurrence comes from God (no matter the agent that makes the “delivery”). Someone with emuna believes and that there is enough to “go around.” God is without limits, therefore, what He can bestow is also without limits. Someone with emuna knows that whatever happens is for the good of our soul, and is calibrated to our exact needs, right now.
So your friend may need to succeed right now, and you, not so much. And if it’s vice versa, you have enough love in your heart to feel your friend’s pain and comfort her.
The Glad Heart
Aside from emuna, what are the distinguishing attributes of a Breslover Hasid? The polar opposites of schadenfreude, envy, and jealousy.
Someone who learns and applies Breslov Hasidus, following the Rebbe’s teachings, including hisbodedus, will not only have emuna in and love for Hashem, but will also love his or her fellow.
True love, according to Breslov, is not only actively doing for others, but also actively feeling genuine, deep happiness for another’s success, especially their spiritual success.
In time to come the whole world will be Breslover Hasidim.
The Torah says in Ezekiel: “I will give you a heart of flesh, LeV BaSaR”. Read not BaSaR but BoSeR, “glad”.
In Hebrew the letters of the words LeV BoSeR, a glad heart, spell the word BReSLoV.
Breslover Hasidim are sincerely glad at their friends’ good fortune, and in time, after the geulah, the entire world will feel this way, too.
This post is sponsored by Efrat bat Malka.