An Honorable Mention

Question

I am nominated for an excellence in teaching award and can possibly win 15,000 dollars that I can of course use and it would be great for the name of my school if I win. The problem with the award is that it can create possible feelings of jealousy among the teachers. According to Judaism is it my problem how other people allow themselves to feel and is it my responsibility not to create situations that may end up invoking bad feelings?

2 weeks

Answers

  1. I admire your sensitivity for the feelings of others to the possible negative feelings of jealousy or envy that positive achievement might invoke. Nevertheless, according to Judaism there is absolutely no problem – either legal or moral – to receive an award that is given to recognize one’s excellence.

    You have obviously put much and care into your teaching efforts in order to achieve such recognition and deserve to benefit from the fruits of you labor. Is this any different from getting paid a salary for work provided? It is a bonus awarded for a “bonus” of hard work and an honor for a superior job that is well done.

    Our Rabbinical scholars have taught, “One who pursues honor, honor will flee from him; one who flees from honor, honor will pursue him” (Talmud Eruvin 13b). However, this teaching does not apply to you. You are not pursuing honor and do not teach in order to receive a reward. People who have common sense will understand that you are just receiving what is due to you, and the honor and money are not undeserved. You are also not taking anything away from them since if they would be deserving, they would also receive the same honor.

    Of course, the money is an important factor if you receive the award. However, being an excellent teacher who is recognized by experts as such should serve as a great example of how a teacher should teach. This includes all aspects of teaching, not only imparting information to the students, but also helping develop their character to be ethical and moral.

    I hope you win the award and prize money and serve as a positive role model for all. However, to be fair, I would also probably extend my same best wishes to any other teacher who writes such a beautiful and sensitive question as yours!

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team