In this week’s Parshat V’Etchanan, Moshe reviews the 10 commandments.
The 10th commandment is a bit surprising. G-d tells us not to be jealous of anyone else’s wife, house, and all possessions. How can that be a command? Can one really control what he/she feels?
Some commentaries explain that we can! This command teaches us that G-d can command us to control our feelings because that is possible. One must really “work on themselves” to redirect their thoughts and feelings. How so here, in our case?
Think about it: One is jealous because he/she wants what the other has. I feel that what I have is not enough. I need THAT! This obviously points to a lack of belief or faith that G-d has provided all that I need. What I have is enough for me, I must believe – or else G-d would have made sure that I had that.
This value, of being happy with what one has, is a famous part of the first mishnah in the fourth chapter of Ethics of our Fathers: Who is (truly) rich? One who is happy with one’s lot, i.e. happy with what G-d has given him/her. If one feels “full”, then one will never be jealous of another.
A feeling of jealousy is rooted in a sense that one is missing something, and we must believe that we have all that we need – or else G-d has made a mistake. Impossible!
So, really, a command to avoid jealousy is a command to work on your faith.
Discuss: What are the things you sometimes see others might have that you covet? How might you instead focus on what you do have and the joy, fulfillment and satisfaction that it brings you? Say one great quality about each person at the table – what makes each person special? Name three wonderful things you have in your life. Let’s focus on what we do have and be thankful for that.
Bracha Krohn, mom to an 11-year old boy, 7-year old girl and 5-year old boy, made aliyah to Efrat, Israel from Cleveland, Ohio in Summer 2008, with her husband Adi. She is Director of Guidance and faculty member at Midreshet Moriah in Jerusalem, a one year post-high school program for young women, and she teaches weekly for the Women's Beit Midrash of Gush Etzion. Her family spends the summers in camp where she teaches daily classes for camp staff. "Table Talk" is based on the ideas she and her husband, also a Torah educator, discuss with their children around their weekly Shabbat table.Click to download