Home Subscribe Services Support Us
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Do Not Covet Part 5

We have completed the halachic (legal) issues relating to the mitzvo of ’Do not Covet’. It is now important to discuss some of the philosophical aspects of this mitzvo.

The commentaries discuss why it is wrong to covet someone else‘s item. The early commentator, the Ibn Ezra, offers a useful analogy to help understand the Torah’s outlook on what one’s attitude should be towards material possessions. He tells us to imagine a lowly peasant man who sees a beautiful princess. If he is of sound mind, he will not contemplate marrying her, because he is well aware that she is not designated for him, because she is in a completely different social sphere. In a similar vein, everything that a person has is given to him from HaShem and anything that he does not need is not given to him. Therefore, the property of another person has no relevance to him - it is completely out of his sphere of ownership.

This idea is developed further by an illuminating saying of the Sages. They tell us that righteous people are very careful about looking after their material possessions because they know that they did not acquire anything dishonestly[1]. As we said above, everything that a person owns is given to him from HaShem. However, this is on condition that it was acquired in an honest fashion. A righteous person recognizes that since he is totally honest, whatever he has been given or acquired is necessary for him to properly serve HaShem. Accordingly, he is very careful not to damage or lose his property, because to do so, would make it very difficult to achieve his purpose. With this in mind, it is evident that acquiring other people’s property is totally unnecessary for a person to achieve his life potential. By definition, anything that his fellow owns is not needed for him. Therefore, it is fruitless for him to try to attain it from his friend.

With this attitude a person can learn to become far more satisfied with his lot.

1. Chullin, 91a.


Text Copyright © 2009 by Rabbi Yehonasan Gefen and

Visit Rabbi Gefen's new blog at

Rabbi Gefen's new book, The Guiding Light, is now available! To order, please contact Rabbi Gefen at or 00972 52 761 9935.



View Complete List

Every Little Bit Counts
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5763

Honoring Parents: Parental Guidance
Rabbi Osher Chaim Levene - 5766

Lets End The Blame Game
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5774

> Let Sleeping Fogs Lie
Shlomo Katz - 5759

Shlomo Katz - 5768

Im Lavan Garti
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5766


Freeing the Spirit
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5768

Conquering the Land
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5765

To Win By A Hairsbreadth
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5764

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Stripping Life Down to its ‘Bear’ Minimum
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5766

All... Most
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5757

Oh Brother
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5758

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Think It Through
Rabbi Chaim Flom - 5768

A Spell of Brotherliness
Rabbi Label Lam - 5771

Just Say No
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5771

The Jug May Be Only Half Full, But It Will Never Be Empty
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5773

Project Genesis Home

Torah Portion

Jewish Law



Learn the Basics




Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base


About Us

Contact Us

Free Book on Geulah! Home Copyright Information