Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Torah's prohibition against jealousy


The Torah's two prohibitions against jealousy, לא תחמוד and לא תתאוה , have two aspects: practical and philosophical.

Practically, one may not desire another person's spouse or property, and plan steps to make the desired entity his own. The prohibition is violated specifically if one plans practical steps, per Rambam (Hilchot Gezeilah 1:9-12) and Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 359:10-12). Some do debate whether desiring and taking violate only one prohibition (Smag Lo Taaseh 158) or two (Rambam, Sefer haMitzvot 265-266).

Philosophically, we are instructed to ban thoughts of jealousy from our minds; if someone else possesses something, I shouldn't say, “I want to take that for myself.” This requires a degree of mental discipline; we are expected to train ourselves to view other people's property as off-limits, so that the thought of stealing it becomes anathema. For more on how we may fulfill this expectation, see Sefer haChinuch 38, 224 and 416; Ibn Ezra to Shemot 20:14; Beit haLevi to Parshat Yitro.

Have a great day,

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