When you come to the conclusion that a major purchase should not be made due to some financial or other consideration, it is a minor form of prophecy from God.
This week’s Torah portion is Yitro (Exodus 18:1–20:23), and it includes the Ten Commandments. I would like to discuss the 10th of these commandments, which states: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s household….” In other words, we are forbidden to be envious of our friends for their wealth, spouses or, for that matter, anything else.
OK. Very nice. This commandment is teaching us proper moral and ethical values. Follow this commandment and you’ll be an upright person. But let me ask you: Does it really deserve to be in the “top ten” commandments that God felt necessary to reveal Himself, personally, to the entire Nation of Israel? The other nine commandments are clearly important and set the tone for Judaism, but this one? Don’t get me wrong. It is important, but should it be among the top ten?
“You shall not covet” is indeed one of the most fundamental commandments in the Torah because its careful observance and recognition is essentially a declaration of appreciation for and recognition of Divine Providence.
The mitzvah (commandment) of “You shall not covet” reminds us that God is running the world and that He provides each person with what he or she needs. Whatever is yours is yours because God wanted it to be so. When you come to the conclusion that a major purchase should not be made due to some financial or other consideration, it is a minor form of prophecy from God that you were not intended to own this item. He decides how much money we will earn and He gives us the spouse that He wants us to have.
One who wishes that he or she were married to someone else or had the same type of car as a neighbor’s is essentially denying that God controls the world and provides everyone with all that they need. This type of stuff is not random, nor is it within our reach. He decides what is ours and what is not ours.
This is why “You shall not covet” is in the “top ten.” It is there to remind us that God takes care of not only major issues that affect the world, but also the small stuff. Without this commandment and concept, Judaism would seem very different.
To read more of Rabbi Enkin’s insights into this week’s Torah portion, click on the links below.