(Rabbi Freeman was asked to respond as briefly as possible to the question, “When is envy a good thing?”)

I envy the angels, among whom there is no envy. The angels envy me, in whom envy burns without respite.

The angels envy my envy, my lust, my jealousy, my contentiousness, my impetuousness, and yes, even my obsessiveness. They envy the visceral passion of an endocrine-driven, palpitating, throbbing, sweaty human being. “If only,” they yearn, “the serenity of our songs of love and awe could approach the unbridled ecstasy of that raw animal drive.”

The angels glare in envy as the breath of G‑d descends below to become a human soul. Ripped out of the Infinite Light, it squeezes itself within meat and bones to experience that passion which belongs uniquely to earth below—and channel it towards its Beloved above. A new sort of love is born, a novelty to the cosmos and to its Creator: a fire within the human heart upon which the animal roasts, transformed to the divine.

“And G‑d saw all that He had made, and it was very good.” The sages tell us that “good” refers to the urge to do good, “very good” to the passion to do no good. The evil is not good, but the passion—if only it will find its true purpose—is very good.

For all that He made, He made for His glory.