The Tenth Commandment: A Personal Reflection by Judy Ravech
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Ed. Note: Today we present this final post in the Ten Commandment Series. Written by Judy Ravech, today's post covers "coveting." This post looks at how we can turn our concern ABOUT others into concern FOR others.
As we finish our series, we invite you to join us tomorrow night for our Shavuot service celebrating our Confirmation Class of 2011. Services will begin at 7:30 pm in our Sanctuary.
Please also let us know whether you have enjoyed this expanded blog series. What future topics would you like to see on the blog? How often would you like to see posts on the blog? Please feel free to comment on this or any topic on this post.
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female slave, or..."
One of the most interesting things about the 10th commandment is that it’s the only one which instructs us on what we should or should not FEEL. The previous nine commandments are all about action, telling us what we should or should not DO. If we don’t observe the other commandments, it would be apparent to others that we’ve broken them; if we don’t observe this commandment, no one except ourselves, and G-d, will notice – unless we go from simply feeling desire for what our neighbor has to taking action. Perhaps the purpose of this last commandment is in fact to prevent that – because desiring what someone else has might eventually lead us to break one of the previous commandments – to steal, to commit adultery, perhaps even to commit murder.
But is it OK to covet something if we don’t act on it? We all have our moments when we envy what our neighbors have – their shiny new car or beautiful home, their happiness or good health, even their well-behaved children who, by the way, were just accepted to Harvard. But if we continually measure ourselves against our neighbors, how can we ever be satisfied with our own lives?
I don’t believe that desire is necessarily a bad thing – it’s what motivates us to study hard in school, to get up each day and go to work, to become productive members of society. But if I focus all my energy on the things I want to HAVE, I cannot be paying nearly enough attention to the things I want to BE. When we stop caring about what our neighbor has and trying to keep up, our hearts and souls become incredibly free. As an active participant here in the TBS community, I’ve been granted continual opportunities to move forward from caring about what my neighbor has, to caring about how my neighbor is – and as a current and future leader, to be in a position to take action and do something about it. This commandment – the last and only one which tells us how to feel – is perhaps really G-d’s way of directing us to “chesed” – and by caring about each other, we ultimately repair the world.