The Ten Commandments are the basis for our religious belief system.
Imbedded in this brief portion of the Torah are the directives that
require one to believe in Hashem, keep the Shabbat and honor our parents.
There are also restrictions on the behavior of humans forbidding one to
steal or kill. The last one is the command ďDo not covetĒ that which
belongs to another. The great Sefardic poet and sage Rabbi Abraham Ibn
Ezra, ztíl, wrote that many people are confused and donít comprehend how
it is possible for a person to be told that it is a sin to want. One can
comply when told not to steal or kill but how can one be told not to
desire something beautiful that one sees?
There once was a burly peasant who visited the capital city. There he had
the unique opportunity to view the beautiful daughter of the king.
Although the princess was of marriageable age, the peasant did not even
fantasize about a life together with her as man and wife. He knew that she
was from a different world than the one he lived in. The social barriers Ė
financial discrepancies and learned tastes and manners were so different
that he saw her as an angel and himself as a horse. Everyone, he thought
to himself, knows that an angel does not marry a horse. The bottom line
was he could look and he could appreciate her beauty and desirability
without wanting her for himself. She just didnít belong to him.
I have two friends who love to smoke cigarettes. They probably consume two
packs a day apiece. When Shabbat is about to end their craving builds to a
crescendo of desire and with the last blessing of Havdallah they light up
and smile. Strangely enough, until a few moments before Shabbat ends they
donít need that cigarette at all. On Shabbat they donít even think about
smoking. No Ė not even with their coffee or after their meal. I was
curious enough to ask: ďHow come you smoke so much during the week but
donít even think about cigarettes on Shabbat?Ē
ďOh, thatís easy they both jumped in to answer. On Shabbat I know I canít
have one so I donít want one. During the week, when I know I am permitted
to have one I canít wait to light another.Ē
The Torah expects us to understand that G-d does not ask of the human
being what is impossible to do. Hashem only asks us to do the possible.
Therefore, to not desire that which belongs to another is a real
possibility. One simply has to train one self to accept that Hashem
distributes everything in this World to the one that needs it for his or
her service to G-d. The command to avoid jealousy is a command that
requires that one believe that Hashem does not err, hív, and knows clearly
how to give out money, possessions, talents, wives, children and all else
that a person may need or want. Once one sees that someone else has
something one should immediately conclude that that item was given to that
other person by G-d. That possession is best suited for the other and not
for him. Hashem knows best, therefore, I should not even desire that which
was given to another.
Do not covet is not impossible it is just a matter of accepting the All
Knowing King as a perfect distributor and supplier of all that everyone
needs. Farther knows best.