Jacob sends Joseph to find his brothers in Shechem. A person, out of nowhere, discovers Joseph to-eh basadeh, “wandering in the field” (Gen. 37:15). What if we translate this differently? Joseph was “astray about the field”? Joseph misinterpreted what the field truly meant. Joseph recalled the argument between Cain and Abel (Gen. 4:8). What did they argue about? One said to the other, ‘This field you are standing on is mine’ (Bereishit Rabbah 22:7). Because of jealousy, a man killed his brother. Joseph “went astray in the field” thinking that it was all about the field! He thought, “Cain had a reason to kill his brother over a field, but my brothers would not be jealous and kill me over that. A coat is very different than a field!”
Moral: Jealousy is frequently considered a secondary emotion, triggered in response to a primary emotion like fear or anger. It’s the feeling that someone is trying to take something you have. Jealousy can manifest through anger, indignation, sadness, disgust, and rage. In Joseph’s mind, a coat is trivial in comparison to the value of land – therefore, why would his brothers be angry or fear anything because their father gave him a mere coat? The coat represented something of far greater value than Joseph realized: a parent’s love.