Israel Forever

For the week ending 1 July 2006 / 5 Tammuz 5766

The Missing Word

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

What does it mean when an Israeli says lefargen?

Literally translated into English this means to not begrudge the success or well-being of someone else. This is an adaptation of the Yiddish word fargin, which is a positive way of expressing the satisfaction one can feel with another’s happiness.

The tragedy of Korach and his company sinking alive into the earth, which we will be reading in this week’s Torah portion, all began when this extremely wealthy and important individual could not fargin the position given to someone else that he felt was coming to him. This envy led him to challenge the authority of Moshe and brought about his disaster.

Not only is there really no word in modern Hebrew to approximate the fargin of Yiddish, there is also a lack of this attitude in much of our society. In politics and business there is too much of a “dog eat dog” approach to dealing with others, especially competitors. This is a very unhealthy condition for any society, especially a Jewish one.

Perhaps the lesson of Korach will alert our people to the importance of fargining others and bring peace and harmony to Israel forever.

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