Jealousy. There is no doubt that to be jealous is to be wrong. That horrible feeling of constant want and persistent desire, that feeling of never measuring up, is punishment enough for the jealous person. Those awful emotions eat away at one's insides.
And yet, though it is never justifiable, sometimes jealousy is understandable. Take the scenario of two neighbors: One is middle-class, the other probably middle-class as well. Yet Neighbor B chooses to flaunt his wealth: to hang crystal chandeliers outside of his house, to have three live-in maids, you name it. Yes, Neighbor A should be adult enough to take it all in stride, but if he's a wee-bit jealous can we really blame him? The other neighbor, it seems, is doing everything to antagonize his live-within-your-budget-friends.
Yosef Hatzaddik (Joseph the righteous) showed off before his brothers. He flaunted not wealth, but dreams. Dreams of one day becoming king, of ruling over his brothers. His ten older brothers reacted to their feelings of hurt pride and envy by throwing him into a pit.
The brother's committed a sin. Jealousy, and in this case the actions it led to, is wrong. Very wrong. Yet even so, Yosef's actions were off as well. As a Tzaddik he should have known better than to unnerve his brother's. And as a Tzaddik he is judged more strictly than the ordinary person.
Yosef paid for the anguish that he caused his brothers. In Egypt he was thrown into prison for a crime of zero proportions: He refused to be taken in by the courtship of his master Potiphar's wife and in her anger she had him framed. Yosef sat in jail for ten years as a result of a crime that he didn't commit.
Ten years for ten brothers. The Heavenly judge ordered those years of pain and suffering so that Yosef could feel the distress that his dream-telling caused his brothers. By sitting in prison, Yosef understood that to boast is never acceptable. One must always bear in mind the upset he might be causing his sibling, friend or neighbor.
As ruler of Egypt, Yosef later remembers this lesson. As the leader of a hungry nation, Yosef recalls his years of suffering and utilizes his negative experience to empathize with and to help the citizens.
Translated and adapted by Chaya Sara Ben Shachar