On the one hand there's a gemara in berachos 17a that indicates that there won't be any awareness of others accomplishments relative to our own come olam habaah (at least not in a way that will affect us negatively):

מַרְגְּלָא בְּפוּמֵיהּ דְּרַב: [לֹא כָעוֹלָם הַזֶּה הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא]: הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא אֵין בּוֹ לֹא אֲכִילָה וְלֹא שְׁתִיָּה, וְלֹא פִרְיָה וְרִבְיָה וְלֹא מַשָּׂא וּמַתָּן, וְלֹא קִנְאָה וְלֹא שִׂנְאָה וְלֹא תַחֲרוּת, אֵלָּא צַדִּיקִים יוֹשְׁבִין וְעַטְרוֹתֵיהֶם בְּרָאשֵׁיהֶם, וְנֶהֱנִים מִזִּיו הַשְּׁכִינָה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: {שמות כ"ד:י"א} "וַיֶּחֱזוּ אֶת הָאֱלֹהִים וַיֹּאכְלוּ וַיִּשְׁתּוּ."

Rav was wont to say: The World-to-Come is not like this world. In the World-to-Come there is no eating, no drinking, no procreation, no business negotiations, no jealousy, no hatred, and no competition. Rather, the righteous sit with their crowns upon their heads, enjoying the splendor of the Divine Presence, as it is stated: “And they beheld God, and they ate and drank” (Exodus 24:11), meaning that beholding God’s countenance is tantamount to eating and drinking.

On the other hand there's a gemara in BB 75a that reads as follows:

אָמַר רַבִּי חֲנִינָא מְלַמֵּד שֶׁכׇּל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד נִכְוֶה מֵחוּפָּתוֹ שֶׁל חֲבֵירוֹ אוֹי לָהּ לְאוֹתָהּ בּוּשָׁה אוֹי לָהּ לְאוֹתָהּ כְּלִימָה.

Rabbi Ḥanina said: This teaches that each and every one is burned from embarrassment at the size of the canopy of the other, and says: Woe for this embarrassment, woe for this disgrace, that I did not merit a canopy as large as his.

seemingly indicating that we are conscious of how we stack up vis a vis others along with the feelings that come along with it.


(Full disclosure: this is not my own question)


1 Answer 1


I was very moved by what Ramchal wrote in Chapter 11 of Mesilat Yisharim about the lust for honour [borrowing Rabbi Yosef Sebag's translation in Path of the Just]:

יְתֵרָה עָלֶיהָ חֶמְדַּת הַכָּבוֹד כִּי כְּבָר הָיָה אֶפְשָׁר שֶׁיִּכְבֹּשׁ הָאָדָם אֶת יִצְרוֹ עַל הַמָּמוֹן וְעַל שְׁאָר הַהֲנָאוֹת, אַךְ הַכָּבוֹד הוּא הַדּוֹחֵק, כִּי אִי אֶפְשָׁר לוֹ לִסְבֹּל וְלִרְאוֹת אֶת עַצְמוֹ פָּחוּת מֵחֲבֵרָיו. וְעַל דָּבָר זֶה נִכְשְׁלוּ רַבִּים וְנֶאֶבְדוּ.

LUST FOR HONOR: Greater than this is the lust for honor. For it was already possible for a man to conquer his Yetzer (evil inclination) for money and the other pleasures, but honor is the [ultimate] difficulty. For it is impossible for him to bear and to see himself inferior to his peers. On this many have stumbled and been lost.

He goes on to describe in great detail how many of our greats have been unable to overcome this:

הִנֵּה יָרָבְעָם בֶּן נְבָט לֹא נִטְרַד מֵהָעוֹלָם הַבָּא אֶלָּא בַּעֲבוּר הַכָּבוֹד, הוּא מָה שֶׁאָמְרוּ זַ"ל (סנהדרין קב): תְּפָסוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא בְּבִגְדוֹ וְאָמַר לוֹ, חֲזוֹר בְּךָ וַאֲנִי וְאַתָּה וּבֶן יִשַׁי נְטַיֵּל בְּגַן עֵדֶן. אָמַר לוֹ, מִי בָּרֹאשׁ? אָמַר לוֹ, בֶּן יִשַׁי בָּרֹאשׁ. אָמַר לוֹ, אִי הָכִי לָא בָּעֵינָא.

Behold, Yerovam ben Nevat lost his portion in the World to Come only due to honor. This is what our sages said: "the Holy One blessed be He seized him by his garment and said to him: 'repent and you and I and the son of Yishai (David) will stroll together in the Garden of Eden'. Yeravam asked: 'who will be at the head?' G-d replied: 'the son of Yishai will be at the head'. Yeravam replied: 'if so, I don't want'."

This Yeitzer Hara will go, when all Yeitzer Haras are shechted in the future. At that time we will experience a new reality, where we can see someone get honoured, and not feel jealous or competitive (hard to imagine, I know). The only feeling we might feel is embarrassment, which is indeed not a Yeitzer Hara, but a hard earned, and very beautiful trait.

Ultimately, Olam Haba is not a place of selfish pleasure, but selfless pleasure. We accepted Torah b'mesirat nefesh, so we gave up interest in our own pleasures, and gave them to Him. And our reward therefore will be based on s'char mitzva mitzva. We will appreciate how good is a mitzva, how valuable it was to Hashem and how much Nachat Ruach it gave Him, and the goodness it gave to our fellow Jew. Their delight will be our pleasure. Recognising that will be both our pleasure, and our pain and embarrassment, at how much more we could have done. Perhaps this is why our friend's canopy makes us embarrassed, because it is a painful awareness of how much more we could have done, l'a.

  • Perhaps you can clarify a few things: Why do we need to look at other people's accomplishments to become aware of our own self deficiencies? Are you suggesting that jealousy is an external neg force vs embarrassment which is healthy and part and parcel of us? Yeravam was declining even in olam habaah based on issues of kavod—no? What purpose is served by this competitively driven embarrassment if we can no longer improve any more—is it just that it is an unavoidable part of human nature but will cause us pointless pain in the next world?
    – Nahum
    Feb 9 at 14:28
  • 1
    @Nahum thanks, I'll try to answer after Shabbat, and you also feel free to think about it and contemplate it and have a wonderful Shabbat! Note, some of your questions might be best asked as their own questions? Either way, I'll give you my 2 cents after Shabbat, Shabbat Shalom!
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Feb 9 at 14:45
  • @Nahum Where does it say we need to see their accomplishments in order to become aware of our own deficiencies? It's just a reality. A good mashal is when a tsunami is approaching, some men get scared and run for their lives, leaving their wife and children behind. Some grab their wife and children try to save them. When the former meets the latter, here or in Olam Haba, you can relate to the shame he will feel. It's not competitive. It's not jealousy. He doesn't envy the award they gave the heroic man. He just feels terrible embarrassment as his pathetic weakness and failure....
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Feb 14 at 14:49
  • ...and if he doesn't then something is wrong. it means Hashem shechted not the yeitzer hara, but Gavriel, the malach of justice, Michael, the malach of compassion, etc. Hashem's throne is founded on justice and righteousness, because they are true, and valuable, and therefore anyone who was unjust, and unrighteous will feel shame. That shame is positive, and indeed a healthy part of our neshama, not a yeitzer hara like the lust for honour, and the derivative competitiveness that results. Yeravam declined Gan Eden because of his yeitzer hara indeed. Start a chat if any further questions.
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Feb 14 at 14:53

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .