Ten Commandments

The Decalogue in the Torah, Blog 5, Coveting Tempts You To Harm Your Neighbor

Why does Rambam list these Mitzvoth thus? Is it because Exodus precedes Deuteronomy? This is not a good answer, for when studying Torah we should always favor the interpretation that draws us to Love Adonoy more intensely. Maybe Rambam is suggesting that coveting followed quickly by trying to buy your neighbor’s possessions is bad enough, but laying awake at night desiring and dreaming of your neighbor’s property is far worse. Coveting is perverse idolatry. Coveting counts here for coveting, the looking and the desiring, always precedes adultery. […]

Ten Commandments

The Decalogue in the Torah, Blog 4, Coveting: The Sin That Leads To Many Other Sins

The Mitzvah against coveting appears in slightly different form in Exodus and Deuteronomy. In Exodus you are forbidden to covet your neighbor’s house, and you are forbidden to covet his wife. In Deuteronomy you are forbidden to covet your neighbor’s wife, and are forbidden to desire his house. In Deuteronomy you cannot covet his field, and in both versions you cannot covet or desire his slaves, his ox, his donkey, or anything else that is his neighbor. If the tablets were written today, your neighbor’s car would probably be on the list. Ramban suggests that coveting your neighbor’s wife is listed first in Deuteronomy because it is the greatest sin of all. Coveting your neighbor’s husband is just as much a sin. […]

Ten Commandments

The Decalogue in the Torah, Blog 3: Does the Torah Condone Divorce?

The attitude of the Torah towards divorce can be gleaned from the very words the Torah uses to describe G_d, blessed is He, whose Name is so holy usually it is rendered in the Torah as either Adonoy the merciful, or Elohim the just. Elohim may get angry, but Elohim rarely speaks to judge, it is always Adonoy the merciful who speaks. Elohim the just may visit justice to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Him, but Adonoy the merciful remembers those who Love him for thousands of generations. If Adonoy is so quick to be merciful to us, why should would not be as quick to be merciful to those whose lives we affect, particularly those close to us, our loved ones, our family? […]

Ten Commandments

The Decalogue in the Torah, Blog 2, How One Sin Can Lead to Many More, Up to a Perfect 10

The Decalogue is symmetrical. The commandments to Love G_d with all of your heart and with all of your soul and with all of your possessions are mirrored in the commandments to love your neighbor as yourself. If you steal, murder, or adulter today, yesterday you coveted that which was not yours and could never properly be yours. Coveting is wanting. Coveting is looking. Looking, if not sinful, and it is sinful, is inviting sin to cross under our doorposts. […]

Ten Commandments

The Decalogue in the Torah, Blog 1, We are Invited to a Curious Bar Mitzvah

When the son of a close friend who was divorced invited me to his Bar Mitzvah I eagerly accepted. What a treat! Often those who are born into the faith do not realize what treasures they possess. We will watch as the great Torah scrolls were reverently, ceremoniously removed from the Ark and unrolled. We will then listen as the young man reads the ancient liturgy in English and also in G_d’s language, where the rhymes are more in thoughts than words, so by repetition the words are burned in your heart. We will pray the beautiful prayers in the prayer book. We will all participate in his initiation into the life of the Torah. […]

Catholic Catechism

Catholic Catechism, Thou Shalt Not Covet thy Neighbors Possessions, Blog 5

In the Beatitude, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for they shall see God, St Gregory of Nyssa teaches us, “He who is given the riches of the soul in exchange for material wealth, who is poor for the sake of the spirit.” This commentary is referenced by the Catechism in Section 2546, which teaches us that “voluntary humility is poverty in spirit,” which guards us from soul-destroying envy. Section 2547 of the Catechism quotes St Augustine: Let the “proud seek after and love the kingdoms of the earth” while the poor in spirit possess the kingdom of heaven. Those who are poor in spirit guard their heart from the sin of envy and covetousness, and those who are poor live a life like that of Christ, the Christ whom St Paul reminds us became poor for our sakes. […]

Catholic Catechism

Catholic Catechism, Thou Shalt Not Covet thy Neighbors Possessions, Blog 4

The Catholic Catechism warns that coveting, or avarice, “is the root of theft, robbery, and fraud.”  Both avarice and fornication are both sins of idolatry, when we stray from the love of our neighbor, we stray from the Love of our God, Love of God and love of neighbor are like two vines that twist around the same branch.  Coveting “concerns the intentions of the heart, and summarizes all the precepts of the Law.”  The commandment against coveting forbids the greed that gathers up earthly goods without limit, and the “avarice arising from the passion for riches.”  “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” […]

Catholic Catechism

Catholic Catechism, Do Not Envy, Purification of the Heart, Blog 3

“Be simple and guileless, be like the children who are ignorant of the wickedness that ruins the life of men.  Speak evil of no-one, and do not revel to anyone who speaks evil of another.”  You sin when you listen to slander, when you believe the slander you become a slanderer.  “Slander is evil and an unsteady demon, never peaceful, always stirring up discord.”  “Practice goodness,” “give to all,” “he who gives is guiltless.” […]

Catholic Catechism

Catholic Catechism, Do Not Covet Your Neighbor’s Wife, Blog 2

Surprisingly, the Catholic Catechism discusses concupiscence not when reflecting on the commandment prohibiting adultery but on the commandment forbidding coveting your neighbor’s wife.  Concupiscence is not itself a sin, and although it is commonly thought of as a sexual sin, it can “refer to any intense form of human desire.”  “Concupiscence stems from the disobedience of the first sin.  It unsettles man’s moral faculties and, without being in itself an offense, inclines man to commit sins.” The Catholic Catechism footnotes the decrees of the Council of Trent, which teaches that “concupiscence or the tinder of sin remains in the baptized.  Since it is left for us to wrestle with, it cannot harm those who do not consent but manfully resist it by the grace of Jesus Christ.”  This decree of Trent then confirms that concupiscence is not sin itself, but inclines us to sin. […]

Catholic Catechism

Do Not Covet, Do Not Envy, Blog 1, Early Church Fathers and Others

St Gregory Palamas teaches us that the command not to covet is not only a negative THOU SHALT NOT command but is more a SHALL positive command, that we shall be generous and show charity and lend to our less fortunate neighbor, and to watch after our neighbor’s interests, returning to him lost items you may find.  “Covetousness, conceived in the soul, produces sin; and sin, when committed, results in death (James 1:5).  Refrain from coveting what belongs to others and avoid filching things out of greediness.  Rather you should give from what you possess to whoever asks of you, and you should, as much as you can, be charitable to whoever is in need of charity, and you should not refuse whoever wants to borrow from you (Matthew 5:42).  Should you find some lost article, you should keep it for its owner, even if the owner is hostile towards you, perhaps your kindness will change him and your kindness will overcome evil, as Christ commands.” […]