Do You Desire Your Friend's House?

Friday, 21 January, 2011 - 1:58 pm

The single event that most affected history, the revelation of G-d to the Jewish people on Mount Sinai and the giving of the Ten Commandments, is described in this week’s Torah portion.

While each of the Ten Commandments requires much attention, let’s focus today on the tenth commandment, "You shall not covet your friend's house; or his wife, servant, ox, donkey, or anything that belongs to your friend." (In plain English it might read “Don’t desire your friends beautiful house, gorgeous wife, high paying job, expensive car or anything else that he owns”).

Notice that the Torah first specifies a few possessions, “wife, servant, ox, donkey,” then concludes “or anything that belongs to your friend.” The Torah could have simply stated “You shall not covet anything that belongs to your friend.”  Why the reiteration?

Here’s a profound explanation that I’ve heard: The Torah is emphasizing that while the grass may be greener in a particular part of our friends’ life, we would be well advised to bear in mind the full picture. While we may be drawn to desire a specific item or part of a friend’s life, if we consider their life in context, everything changes.

They may have a fancy house but is there peace in it? His wife may look great when their out together but is she that easy to live with at home? He may have a great job but is he healthy? Is his family healthy? When we think about the whole picture, we may very likely realize that we are better off and happier with what we have than with our friends’ life.

Instead of looking over the fence at our neighbor’s house, let’s enjoy our own.

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