There is this thing that many of us do, it is not helpful, it does not work, and yet we continue to do it. We compare ourselves to others. How am I doing? I compare myself to the person on the left. I compare myself to the person on the right. I have this. They have that.
The preacher Andy Stanley calls this “the comparison trap.” It is a trap because we are never well served by comparing ourselves to others. As Andy Stanley puts it, “there is no win in comparison.”
Which leads us to the Tenth Commandment that we will receive again this Shabbat morning at Sinai. Rabbi Shai Held quotes Abraham Joshua Heschel to the effect that the Tenth Commandment is: Thou shalt get out of the comparison trap. Do not compare yourself to others. Compare yourself to yourself. Who are you? Who do you want to be? How do you get there?
It is easy to say: get out of the comparison trap. But how do we do it? If we find ourselves thinking about this friend’s vacation, that friend’s second house, the incredible nachus that friend has from their children and grandchildren, this friend’s abundant financial resources, we know it is a bad idea. We know it is not helpful. But how do we stop it?
On Shabbat we will consider a psalm and a story from the Talmud that can help us get out of the comparison trap because there is no win in comparison.