Thursday, January 24, 2008

Yisro: coveting for its own sake

Parshat Yisro

In 20:13-14 the Torah says, "לא תרצח לא תנאף... לא תחמוד" - do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal.. do not covet that which belongs to others.."

I would think that "do not covet" should be placed earlier in that list. After all, coveting somebody else's stuff is what leads to stealing, it can lead to murder and adultery... so why is "do not covet" mentioned last? In order it should be first!?

The Torah is giving us a value - do not covet that which is in someone else's possession.
If the Torah would write that first, a person could understand that coveting is bad because it leads to theft, murder and adultery. In other words, if he feels strong enough to withstand, or if he puts safeguards in place to control himself, he will allow himself to covet as he knows he will not steal.

So the Torah puts it on its own. Do not steal, do not murder, do not commit adultery... and do not covet. Even if coveting will not lead you to the other transgressions, on its own it is bad.

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